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Into the Panopticum: Spectacle and Education in Popular Museums of 19th Century Europe with Dr. Peter M. McIsaac
Morbid Anatomy Museum
Brooklyn, NY
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Into the Panopticum: Spectacle and Education in Popular Museums of 19th Century Europe with Dr. Peter M. McIsaac
Illustrated lecture by Dr. Peter M. McIsaac, Associate Professor of German and Museum Studies at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Tuesday, April 5
Time: 7 pm
Admission $8
Location: Morbid Anatomy Museum, 424 Third Avenue, 11215 Brooklyn NY
NOTE: *** Admission includes a visit to the Museum--currently displaying rare wax models from Castan's Panopticum in Berlin--after the talk.

Panoptica were popular throughout Europe from the 18th through the early 20th century. Like dime museums such as Barnums American Museum, these largely forgotten spaces fall somewhere between aristocratic cabinets of curiosity and todays ideas of museums. They would display for a popular audience anatomical and pathological waxworks, real human specimens, death masks of celebrities and murderers, ethnographic busts, Anatomical Venuses, waxes showing the effects of syphilis (still a fatal disease at this time) along with assorted curiosities such as elephant tusks, mummies, stuffed alligators, and monkey skeletons. They also presented live acts such as singers, dancers, ventriloquists, hunger artists, and even living freaks and ethnic rarities. Its spectacle hovered between the exotic and scientific pretense.

Tonight, join Dr. Peter M. McIsaac for an illustrated lecture about the rise and fall of the little known phenomenon of the panopticon in cultural context. The Museum--which is currently displaying rare wax models from Castan's Panopticum in Berlin, with explanatory texts written by Dr. Mc Isaac--will also be open after the talk.

Peter M. McIsaac is associate professor of German Studies and Museum Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His publications inlcude "Museums of the Mind: German Modernity and the Dynamics of Collecting" and "Exhibiting the German Past: Museums, Film, and Musealization." He is also currently writing a book-length manuscript on the "secret" German pre-history to Body Worlds, a contemporary exhibition of human corpses that has broken attendance records and generated controversy around the world. In 2005, he received the Richard K. Lublin Distinguished Teaching Award from Trinity College of Duke University. Before coming to Michigan, McIsaac served as the Director of the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies at York University.

Image: The wax atelier of E. E. Hammer, Munich, late 19th century. Courtesy of Valentin-Karlstadt-Musäum, München


Morbid Anatomy Museum (View)
424 A Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
United States



Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: No
Wheelchair Accessible: No


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