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Lombroso’s Museum of Criminal Anthropology

At one time, the doors to the Lombroso’s Museum of Criminal Anthropology were only open to students and professors, but today, the public is allowed to browse about his collections and infamous work. In this article, you will learn more about the museum that actually holds the head of its namesake preserved in formaldehyde ”“ “perfectly preserved in a glass chamber.”

Criminologist Cesare Lombroso founded the Italian school of criminology and filled it with the objects associated with his work. What would cause the man to devote a museum to some of the most ghastly exhibits in the world? Lombroso gained inspiration after dissecting the body and examining the skull of the autopsied body of Giuseppe Villela ”“ who was a notorious Italian criminal.

During the exam, Lombroso found a cranial anomaly known as a “median occipital fossette.” This led Lombroso to feel that he understood the true ‘scientific’ nature of crime and criminals. He believed that you did not learn how to become a criminal, but you were born to become one. His theory was referred to as “anthropological criminology” and dealt with what was known as “biological determinism.” An associated argument was that criminals were physically de-evolved, and would not be able to change their fates because it was part of their biological makeup.

Lombroso pointed out physical characteristics of criminals, such as large jaws, forward projection of the jaw, low sloping foreheads, high cheekbones, flattened (or upturned) nose, ears shaped like a handle, large chins, long arms, hawk-like noses, shifty eyes, scanty beard or baldness, as well as insensitivity to pain. While Lombroso studied this theory and his specimens, he collected a great deal of skulls, relics of past crimes, and weapons that had been a part of crimes.

In 1892, a museum was opened in Turin and the site attracted the attention of scientists from all over Europe who started to send their own documents and such. His gruesome collection also includes images of crimes and some of the weapons used to kill people. The skulls, human remains and other terrifying items will certainly keep you entertained. Some of the things you will find in Lombroso’s collection include:

”¢    Hundreds of skulls of soldiers and civilians
”¢    The skulls of criminals and madmen
”¢    Dozens of complete skeletons
”¢    Antique scientific instruments
”¢    Endless drawings, images, and criminal evidence
”¢    The Gallows of Turin ”“ which was used in the final hanging held in the city in 1865
”¢    The possessions of White Stag ”“ the infamous impostor who convinced Europe that he was a Native American chief

If you are interested in visiting the Lombroso’s Museum of Criminal Anthropology, you will find it at the University of Turin, Via Pietro Giuria 15, Turin, Italy.