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Ethical Approaches to the Conservation and Restoration of Human Anatomical Praparations
Working with human anatomical and pathological preparations can be a particular challenge for conservator/restorers. The very limited expertise currently available on the restoration of human biological tissue, as well as the partially limited knowledge of various historical manufacturing and preparation techniques, are only some reasons for this. Accordingly, it is not easy to find particular literature in this field. Professional conservation and restoration of human anatomical and pathological preparations requires more than the exact knowledge of “material properties” and manufacturing techniques. Like working with any other art and cultural heritage, the international ethical guidelines for conservator/restorers must be considered. In addition, the principles for correct ethical handling of human remains, which have meanwhile been written down in numerous recommendations, should be respected. The following article describes the conservation and restoration of four historical natural skeletons, manufactured in the first half of the 19th century, from the Dresden University of Fine Arts Anatomical Collection. Moreover, it illustrates the difficulties of following the ethical guidelines for conservation/restoration upon handling human remains and suggests new approaches.