In the early 20th century wax moulages were one of the main teaching resources in dermatology and venereology. They provide a true representation of pathologically altered parts of the body and areas of the skin. They have been used as demonstration objects at exhibitions and education campaigns at the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum ever since its founding in 1912. Right up until the 1980s wax moulages were still being produced at the Museum’s workshops for retail worldwide. Today the collection inventory comprises around 2,000 moulages. A characteristic of a large part of the legacy inventory of moulages is that their conservation status has become deficient due to natural ageing, but also to past usage and unfavourable storage conditions as well as a lack of expert knowledge about preservation options. The project involved drawing up a conservation and restoration concept for the Dresden wax moulage collection. Indeed, its preservation status has been heavily compromised and all too little is known about it from an art technology point of view. The concept is to be trialled on the inventory itself. Recommendations for the future preservation of wax moulages are also being drawn up worldwide. The Museum has worked closely with the Berlin Museum of Medical History at the Charité, the Doerner Institute in Munich, the Hornemann Institute of the HAWK in Hildesheim, the restoration department at the Bavarian National Museum in Munich, and the study course on ‘Art Technology, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art’ at the Academy of Fine Arts Dresden.
The results of the project on the Museum’s wax moulage collection were made public in the publication entitled Körper in Wachs. Moulagen in Forschung und Restaurierung. An internet-based advanced training course on the ‘preservation of wax moulages’ has also been compiled.
The ‘Recommendations for the Preservation of Wax Moulages at Museums, Universities and Hospitals’ are aimed at curators of wax moulage collections all over the world. You can download the recommendations for the preservation of wax moulages as a PDF file here:
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Translation by Stephen Grynwasser