The Latvian Museum of Anatomy was established in 1920 as a training museum for the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Latvia. It was the first medical museum in the country, and its collection was based on that of its founder, Gastons Bakmanis (1883-1964). Over the course of time, the collection has been supplemented by employees of the Institute of Anatomy in terms of objects related to embryology, anatomy, pathology and comparative anatomy. An important segment of the collection is made up of bones found during archaeological digs in the 1920s and 1930s. Since July 1987, the Anatomy Museum has been a branch of the Pauls Stradiņš Museum of the History of Medicine. It attracts some 11,000 visitors each year for tours of the more than 5,000 exhibits that are featured there.
Major events at the museum
The museum has organised exhibitions about work done in the 1920s and 1930s by the distinguished anatomist and anthropologist Jēkabs Prīmanis and his students. There have been exhibitions about health, reviews of anthropological research in Latvia (the annual lectures of Professor Prīmanis), and exhibitions related to the health of young people (“Attention, Scoliosis!” in 2008, for instance). In celebration of the museum’s 90th anniversary, the Pauls Stradiņš Museum of the History of Medicine staged an extensive and diverse exhibition about anatomy in 2010 and 2011.
A unique exhibition at the museum which will remain open until the end of November 2011 comes from the Rīga Stradiņš University, and it is titled “An Anthropological Mirror of the People of Latvia.” In October, the Museum of Anatomy is once again offering a look at the Anatomy Office which was set up by the Stradiņš Museum.
Professor Jēkabs Prīmanis
Jēkabs Prīmanis was born on March 12, 1892, in Ādaži. He was a student at the Ādaži Parish School, the Millers Private School, and the Nikolajs Gymnasium. From there, he joined the Academy of War Medicine in St Petersburg. In 1920, Prīmanis joined the staff of the University of Latvia, and he received a Rockefeller scholarship to pursue further studies in Michigan in the United States, in Munich and in Prague. Jēkabs Prīmanis was elected to the post of professor in 1932.
Professor Prīmanis delivered lectures in anatomy, histology and embryology. He was dean of the Faculty of Medicine and head of the Institute to Study the Living Force of the People. He also delivered lectures at the Academy of Art on the subject of plastic anatomy. He edited the first anatomical dictionary in Latvian and conducted research into the presentation of the human body in Latvian folk songs. Professor Prīmanis received the Krišjānis Barons Prize for the resulting study.
During World War II, Professor Prīmanis emigrated to Germany and the United States, where he was a professor of anatomy at the University of Pittsburgh. He died on November 22, 1971.