The famous collection of wax anatomical and obstetric models is the result of a personal initiative of Joseph II. Inspired by the wax models in La Specola in Florence, commissioned by his brother (the Grand Duke of Tuscany and later Emperor Leopold II), Joseph II ordered 1,192 models for the newly-founded academy in Vienna.
These were produced in Florence between 1784 and 1788 under the supervision of director Felice Fontana and anatomist Paolo Mascagni and eventually arrived in Vienna after a wearisome journey over the Alps. They were intended to serve on the one hand as visual aids for teaching, but on the other they were, even then, intended for the general public.
The majority of the models survived to this day and they are exhibited in six rooms in their original rosewood and Venetian glass display cases.