Highlights From the Warren Anatomical Museum

The collections inside this museum hold intriguing objects that tell the story of 19th century American medicine

An 1868 surgery kit, part of Harvard's Warren Anatomical Museum. (Warren Anatomical Museum)

Half-life size plaster models of "Norma" (circa 1945) and "Norman," (circa 1950) designed by Robert Latou Dickinson, M.D. and modeled in plaster by Abram Belskie

Half-life size plaster models of Norma and Norman
(Warren Anatomical Museum)
A prominent obstetrician and gynecologist, Robert Latou Dickinson graduated first in his class from Long Island College Hospital in 1881 and ran a successful OB/GYN practice in Brooklyn before elected president of the American Gynecological Society in 1920. In his self-described “second career,” Dickinson researched and investigated sexual anatomy and contraception, recording detailed descriptions of female anatomy for educational use.

Out of this research, Dickinson oversaw the production of 24 life-sized plaster casts depicting conception, fetal growth, and birth for the 1940 World’s Fair in Queens. A few years later, he designed “Norma” and “Norman” with help from sculptor Abram Belskie. They are the product of measurements of over 15,000 women and a like number of men.

Dickinson donated the sculptures to the Cleveland Health Museum, which after its 2007 merge with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, donated the models in turn to Harvard’s Center for the History of Medicine.

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