Museum Vrolik is named after Gerard Vrolik (1775-1859) and his son Willem (1801-1863). Gerard and Willem were both Professor of Anatomy in Amsterdam. Their Museum Vrolikianum was a private collection that could be viewed at their home.
The collection included normal anatomy of humans and animals, but also pathological anatomy and congenital malformations.
After the death of Willem Vrolik the specimens were bought by a group of rich Amsterdammers, who gave them to the Athenaeum Illustre in Amsterdam, predecessor to the University of Amsterdam. Although the collection was subsequently expanded by consecutive Amsterdam anatomists, it retained the name ‘Museum Vrolik’. Since 1984 Museum Vrolik has been located in the Academic Medical Centre of Amsterdam
Museum Vrolik is part of the AMC's department of Anatomy, Embryology and Physiology. Apart from the museum, the department comprises a research group and a teaching section.
Museum Vrolik is a small museum with a unique collection. The museum has a three-fold aim:
- to manage and provide access to its unique collection of some 10,000 specimens of anatomical preparations, bones, skulls and skeletons of humans and animals from the late 18th century, the 19th century and the early 20th century.
- to exhibit the collection in order to promote public understanding of the structure and development of the human body (both normal and abnormal), in accordance with the last wishes of Willem Vrolik, the co-founder. In addition, the museum seeks to explain its history and the origins of the collections, thereby contributing to public knowledge of that history and of the history of science and medicine in general.
The museum's main target groups are researchers and pupils and students in preparatory, secondary and university education. The museum also welcomes anyone who is interested in anatomy, biology, medicine and the history of those disciplines.
- Museum Vrolik aims to be a centre for (academic) teaching and research in the history of medicine, biology and anthropology - the disciplines that are brought together in the museum's collections. The collections can serve as a basis for this research. The research seeks links with the wider field of the history of medicine and science, on both a national and international level.
As a museum that is part of the AMC, Museum Vrolik is affiliated to UvA Erfgoed, the academic collections of the University of Amsterdam (see www.bijzondercollecties.uva.nl) and is a member of the Stichting Academisch Erfgoed (www.academischerfgoed.nl). Museum Vrolik, the medical departments of Utrecht University Museum, Groningen University Museum and Museum Boerhaave together form the platform Medische Collecties Nederland (see www.medischerfgoed.nl). In the field of collection research and presentation, Museum Vrolik works with Naturalis and the NEMO science center. Some of our permanent exhibits are on extended loan from Museum Naturalis. Parts of the Museum Vrolik collection can also be seen at NEMO and Museum de Markiezenhof.