University of Nebraska Medical Center

From the archives: Moulage collection

By John Schleicher

Moulage is the art of applying mock injuries or conditions for the purpose of training medical and nursing students, and other medical personnel. It is a French term for a mold of a lesion or defect used as a guide in applying medical treatment, or in performing reconstructive surgery, which has a long history of use in medical education.  In the 19th and early 20th centuries, moulages were taken of patients for medical educational purposes. The prepared model was painted to mimic the original case and disease.

Diaphragmatic Hernia Newborn

The McGoogan Library has over 100 moulages, which were made here on the UNMC campus, in the 1930s.  The moulages are molded wax on a plaster base, and were made by David Rhea, a laboratory assistant in charge of tissue processing for the Department of Pathology, under the direction of J. Perry Tollman, M.D. (1904-1996), Chair of Pathology (1948-1952), and later Dean of the College of Medicine (1952-1964).  Rhea did the molding of these models and Dr. Tollman was involved as an advisor for the authentication of each one. They were all based on patient cases from the former University Hospital.

The moulages were donated to the library in 2003, through the efforts of Pete Iwen, Ph.D., Professor of Pathology and Microbiology.  The history of the moulages was documented by Jim Newland, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Pathology and Microbiology, in his history of the department.  Prior to being donated to the library, the moulages were previously housed in the main hallway of the North Laboratory Building (Poynter Hall), and later in a fourth floor pathology classroom in Wittson Hall.  The moulages are exhibited on the 6th and 8th floors of the library.

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