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It’s certainly difficult to look at some of the displays in this medical museum, but also strangely difficult to look away. The Moulagenmuseum is part of the University of Zurich, and contains a huge collection of the most lifelike and well preserved wax molds – or moulages – in the world.

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Way before colour photography, plastics and especially the internet, wax models were used for centuries as an excellent means of recording the visible bodily symptoms of disease. These would be invaluable to medical students who would need to be able to differentiate and diagnose a whole plethora of grotesque and disfiguring ailments.

The museum here started collecting specimens in 1916, and by the early 1990s had amassed over 2,000 models, representing over 1,000 different diseases and afflictions. From sores and hives to syphilis, leprosy and cancer the waxworks were made with painstaking attention to detail, some even have individual eyelashes.

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The museum is used by students and doctors for lectures on certain days and new moulages are still created here on occasion. At all other times visitors looking for a bit of something bizarre are welcome to enter free of charge.

Moulagenmuseum, Haldenbachstrasse 14, 8091 Zürich, +41 44 255 56 85

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