Wax model of a dermal patient’s hand. Diagnosis: epidermophytia, hyperkeratosis. Artist: Arturs Bērnieks (1886–1964). Riga, mid-1920s.
A wax moulding of the hand of a patient with a skin disease. Wax models allow the external manifestations of an illness to be represented in exact detail, so these items were invaluable teaching aids before 3D digital models became available.
Wax model of a leprosy patient. Diagnosis: leontiasis. Artist: Staņislavs Kreics (1909–1992). Talsi Leprosarium, 1947.
The Talsi Leprosarium produced wax models that, according to experts, are of striking precision — very close to the real manifestations of the disease. Made with the patients’ consent, they were cast in wax and painted; some have even been embellished with either real or artificial hair.
Medical models are principally used to demonstrate to medical students the characteristic manifestations of dermatological, venereal and tumorous disorders, along with other diseases such as leprosy. The museum allows anybody to examine these materials, some of them up to a century old.
This model collection is one of the most prominent in the entire Eastern European region. Some of these models were produced in small shops, others industrially, from 1922 till the 1970s, focusing particularly on accurate representations of leprosy and dermatological diseases.