“A concentrate of human suffering terrifying” : the hospitals of Paris opened the doors of the Museum of casts

Located at the hôpital Saint-Louis in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, this museum exhibits thousands of faces and bodies of patients. “Sensitive souls refrain,” warns the manager.

"Un concentré de souffrance humaine terrifiante" : les hôpitaux de Paris ouvrent les portes du Musée des moulages

The museum of the casting is only open on appointment during normal times. (BENJAMIN ILLY / RADIO FRANCE)

Dimmed lights, silence, faces and bodies deformed by disease-dermatological conditions : the atmosphere is particularly morbid to the Museum of plaster casts in Paris. Located in a wing of the hospital Saint-Louis, in the 10th arrondissement of the capital, it will exceptionally be open, without appointment Saturday, may 26, from 14h to 17h. “The building was built in 1882, says Sylvie Dorison, in charge of the museum. The room is 400 m2. There are 162 showcases and 4 890 castings.”

"Un concentré de souffrance humaine terrifiante" : les hôpitaux de Paris ouvrent les portes du Musée des moulages

Nearly 5,000 castings are exposed to the hôpital Saint-Louis (BENJAMIN ILLY / RADIO FRANCE)

Vestige of the ravages of syphilis

“You have birth defects due to syphilis, as this baby cyclops, with one eye in the center of the face, explains Sylvie Dorison. The pluaprt castings have been made on living patients who were hospitalized at the hospital Saint-Louis”. Difficult to remain unmoved at the faces. “Souls sensitive refrain”, warns the head of the museum.

The museum is prohibited to under 14 years of age. I’ve even had adults who have is unwell vagalSylvie Dorisonfranceinfo

"Un concentré de souffrance humaine terrifiante" : les hôpitaux de Paris ouvrent les portes du Musée des moulages

Dr. Antoine Petit sees an “important historical heritage” in a museum (BENJAMIN ILLY / RADIO FRANCE)

“Human suffering” but “important heritage”

So, is this a museum of horrors ? “It is true that this museum is a concentrate of human suffering terrifying, recognizes Matthew Josselin, a passing visitor. But at the same time, there is a respect for the sick, a desire of pedagogy, transmission which is of an extraordinary richness. It really is a very deep experience.”

Dr. Antoine Petit, a dermatologist at the hôpital Saint-Louis, sees him as”an important historical heritage” : “Until in the years 50-60, the faculty of medicine took the casts to go off course.” They are a testimony of the past : most date from the late 19th and early 20th century. The last casting was made in 1958.

Share Button