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July 2011

Duke University in Durham, NC, Features Display of Anatomical Flap Books

Duke University in Durham, NC, is presenting the exhibit, Animated Anatomies, which explores the visually stunning and technically complex genre of printed texts and illustrations known as anatomical flap books. The exhibition is on display in the Perkins Gallery, in the William R. Perkins Library, and in the History of Medicine Gallery in the Medical Center and Archives Library, through July 17, 2011. The exhibit was curated by Valeria Finucci and Maurizio Rippa-Bonati with the assistance of Rachel Ingold and Meg Brown.

These publications invite the viewer to participate in virtual autopsies, through the process of unfolding their movable leaves, simulating the act of human dissection. This exhibit traces the flap book genre beginning with early examples from the sixteenth century, to the colorful “golden age” of complex flaps of the nineteenth century, and finally to the common children’s pop-up anatomy books of today.

This display includes volumes from Duke’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, the Duke Medical Center Library & Archives History of Medicine Collection and from the private collections of the curators of the exhibit, Professor Valeria Finucci, Director of Duke’s Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and Professor Maurizio Rippa-Bonati, historian of medicine at the University of Padua.

Animated Anatomies is sponsored by Duke University’s Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Departments of Romance Studies and History, the Center for European Studies, Duke University Medical Center Library & Archives, Duke University Libraries, the Trent Foundation, and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

Many people have taken part in the creation of this exhibit. In particular, the curators wish to thank Maurizio Rippa-Bonati, who proposed the idea that the anatomical flap book was a genre full of surprises and worth investigating; Margaret Brown; Rachel Ingold; Pat Thibodeau; Mark Zupan; Tom Crichlow; Joy Ogunmuyiwa; Aaron Welborn; Beth Doyle; Erin Hammeke; Jennifer Blomberg; Whitney Trettien; Jules Odendahl-James; and Mark Olson.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listing, call the Library at 919/660-5968 or visit (


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