The Josephinum is home to a wide array of collections of various kinds, ages and origins, which together represent the cultural heritage of the Medical University of Vienna, or the earlier Medical Faculty of the University of Vienna.
The collections have evolved to reflect the institution’s almost 650-year history and their depth and variety makes them a treasure unique in the world.
The collections include comprehensive libraries, archives, images, estates, educational materials, models and instruments, which have grown out of the faculty’s various scientific, educational, research and healthcare activities, and thus reflect all the many aspects of its development.
At the heart of the Josephinum’s collections are the original stocks, acquired by Joseph II when the institution was founded, especially the world-famous wax anatomical models and the so-called Josephina Library. Over the last two centuries, the various other collections have been built up step by step, and what was once a surgical academy has been transformed into a museum and a centre for research and teaching on the history of medicine.
Ever since the Josephinum was founded in 1785, the collection of wax models has been accessible to a wider audience, even if it was primarily commissioned for teaching purposes. Accordingly, the Josephinum sees itself, even today, not as a museum in the strictest sense, but as a living place, whose collections are constantly growing and being reinterpreted, and which will continue to be both available for teaching and research and open to the public.
Two further collections, which also make up an important part of the Medical University of Vienna’s cultural heritage, are not physically housed in the Josephinum: these are the Forensic Medicine and Dental Collections.