Most likely, anatomical artefacts appeared at the University of Parma during the 17th century, when the Farnese dukes governed the area. The items were prepared in an anatomical and pathological wax casting laboratory, whose real existence is still a subject of scientific investigation. From the end of the 18th century, during the directorship of Andrea Corsi, the Professor of anatomical Ceroplastics at Parma, the wax laboratory staff moulded three full-sized statues of the human body. Unfortunately, only two of them have been preserved till nowadays; the features of these works are reminiscent of other wax models provided by the Florentine wax modeller Clemente Susini.
After an interruption at the half of the 19thcentury, wax modelling resumed at Parma at the end of the century, through the activity of the anatomist Lorenzo Tenchini, a follower of Cesare Lombroso’s doctrine of forensic anthropometry.
Named after Lorenzo Tenchini, the anthropological-criminological collection comprises approximately 400 human skulls of criminals and outcasts. They correspond to a collection of mummified human brains (not available for public viewing) and some dehydrated preparations from different body regions.
A unique feature of the Tenchini collection is the possibility of matching some of the skulls and mummified specimens with 37 wax mask (so called moulages), reproducing morphological features of the face of the people whose bodies Tenchini used for his anatomical dissections. To each mask is associated written information about the personal and legal history of the individual; these documents are preserved in the history section of the Anatomy Library.