Vesalius Art & Anatomy Tours: Inspiring, Fascinating, and Fun

Southern Greece Tour participants pose with the monument to Vesalius in Zakynthos. Vesalius died on this Ionian Island when his ship wrecked there in 1564.
Southern Greece Tour participants pose with the monument to Vesalius in Zakynthos. Vesalius died on this Ionian Island when his ship wrecked there in 1564.

In April of 2016, 21 travelers took An Artist's Journey North through England and Scotland as part of a Vesalius Trust Art and Anatomy Tour. The tour gave participants unique opportunities to encounter art and science while traveling through the United Kingdom. "These trips are a way to encounter the original builders of medical science - fresh to our eyes, but centuries old," said Chris Gralapp, Vesalius Tour veteran and illustrator for Stanford Head and Neck Surgery. "It is this time-depth that amazes, and nearness to the results of revolutionary thinking and creating that inspire me."

VT Tour participants enjoy a private viewing of rare anatomy books in the Teyler's Museum Library in Haarlem.
VT Tour participants enjoy a private viewing of rare anatomy books in the Teyler's Museum Library in Haarlem.

It is this search for inspiration that has brought together medical illustrators, medical professionals and sci-art enthusiasts to travel throughout Europe on Vesalius Tours over the last decade. They have studied the past by looking through rare art and anatomical texts, and have walked across lecture halls and medical theaters where great minds, such as Galileo, taught centuries ago. Some of the stops on their last trip included touring private collections at Thackray Medical Museum and The Hunterian, viewing death masks and skeletons with an expert at Edinburgh University Anatomical Museum, and a spontaneous trip to the Crawick Multiverse.

Southern Greece Tour (2014) participants enjoying a sunrise breakfast and spectacular views on the outdoor terrace of the charming Pension Marianna in Nafplio.
Southern Greece Tour (2014) participants enjoying a sunrise breakfast and spectacular views on the outdoor terrace of the charming Pension Marianna in Nafplio.
Tour organizer and participant Marie Dauenheimer enjoying a day in Delft during the 2003 VT Tour to The Netherlands and Belgium.
Tour organizer and participant Marie Dauenheimer enjoying a day in Delft during the 2003 VT Tour to The Netherlands and Belgium.

Each tour has been carefully planned to correspond with an international medical and scientific art conference, where participants earned CEU credits while learning about art and science. Tour members have given presentations at past Association Européenne des Illustrateurs Médicaux et Scientifiques (AEIMS) conferences; in 2016, several AMI members including Bill Andrews, C.M.I. , Wayne Heim, C.M.I., Mark Schornak, C.M.I, and Marie Dauenheimer, C.M.I, presented during the Medical Artists' Association (MAA) conference in Manchester, U.K..

Since 1997, Marie Dauenheimer and International Seminar Design, Inc. (ISDI) have curated these trips to provide enriching experiences in art, anatomy and all aspects of European culture. Past trips have gazed upon the Mona Lisa, strolled through Monet's Givernyand painted the sunrise on the Mediterranean Sea. The small group size for each of the Vesalius tours allowed them unique access to many of these places and nurtured close friendships.

 

Northern Italy Tour  (2009) participants Holly Fischer and Professor Gerald Hodges  at the Scuola Superiore di Disegno Anatomico in Bologna, the oldest medical illustration school in Europe.
Northern Italy Tour (2009) participants Holly Fischer and Professor Gerald Hodges at the Scuola Superiore di Disegno Anatomico in Bologna, the oldest medical illustration school in Europe.

A passion for art and science brought this group together and their travel experiences have created friendships that continue long after they return home. Each trip has been filled with special memories, such as discussing how light fell in Rembrandt's studio, drinking champagne while looking at the Eiffel Tower and dining in the library of the Royal Society of Medicine. Many of the participants have kept in touch with their friends and colleagues throughout the years to reminisce about their past journeys and prepare for their next trip with the Vesalius Trust.

For more information about past and the upcoming Vesalius Trust Art and Anatomy tour to Budapest, Vienna, and Prague in October, 2018, contact Marie Dauenheimer, tour organizer (email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone: 571.216.1472), or visit www.vesaliustrust.org .

England/Scotland (2016) participants viewing ancient Roman medical implements at Thackray Museum in Leeds.
England/Scotland (2016) participants viewing ancient Roman medical implements at Thackray Museum in Leeds.

Author:
Melissa Shetler, Managing Art Director & Freelance Storyboard Artist