Musée Fragonard d'Alfort
Écorché of a horse and his rider by anatomist Honoré Fragonard, two of the cadavers on display at the museum
|Established||1766 (opened to the public in 1991)|
|Location||École Nationale Vétérinaire de Maisons-Alfort, Maisons-Alfort, Paris|
|Collection size||~4200 pieces|
|Website||Le musée Fragonard|
The Musée Fragonard d'Alfort, often simply the Musée Fragonard, is a museum of anatomical oddities located within the École Nationale Vétérinaire de Maisons-Alfort, 7 avenue du Général de Gaulle, in Maisons-Alfort, a suburb of Paris. It is open several days per week in the cooler months; an admission fee is charged.
The École Nationale Vétérinaire de Maisons-Alfort is one of the world's oldest veterinary schools, and the museum, created in 1766 with the school, is among France's oldest. It opened to the public in 1991, and today consists of three rooms containing a large collection of anatomical oddities and dissections, most of which date from the 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to animal skeletons and dissections, such as a piglet displayed in cross-section, the museum contains a substantial collection of monstrosities (teratology) including Siamese twin lambs, a two-headed calf, a 10-legged sheep, and a colt with one huge eye.
The museum's most astonishing items are the famous "écorchés" (flayed figures) prepared by Honoré Fragonard, the school's first professor of anatomy, appointed in 1766 and in 1771 dismissed from the school as a madman. His speciality was the preparation and preservation of skinned cadavers, of which he prepared some 700 examples. Only 21 remain; all are on display in the museum's final room. These exhibits include:
- The Horseman of the Apocalypse - based on Albrecht Dürer's print, it consists of a man on a horse, both flayed, surrounded by a crowd of small human foetuses riding sheep and horse foetuses.
- Monkeys - A small monkey, clapping, accompanied by another monkey holding a nut in hand.
- Human foetuses dancing a jig - three human foetuses, arteries injected with wax.
- Goat chest - a goat's dissected trunk and head.
- Human head - blood vessels injected with coloured wax; blue for the veins, red for the arteries.
- Dissection of a human arm - a teaching exhibit, with muscles and nerves separated, and blood vessels injected with coloured wax (blue for the veins, red for the arteries).
- Musée Fragonard d'Alfort
- The Ecorchés by Fragonard[dead link]
- Val de Marne article
- Travel Signposts article
- Taras Gresco, "Skeleton in the Cupboard", The Independent, August 25, 1996
- Taras Gresco, "House Of Real-Life Horrors", The New York Times, July 7, 1996
- Kristan Lawson, Anneli Rufus, Weird Europe: A Guide to Bizarre, Macabre, and Just Plain Weird Sights, Macmillan, 1999, pages 67-68. ISBN 0-312-19873-6.