A collection of foreign objects removed from the upper part of the digestive and respiratory tract of patients of the Zagreb ENT clinic in the 1930s
In the picture: Corpora aliena oesophagi, HMMF-3701
The core of the Museum’s Otorhinolaryngology collection was formed in 2016, when the Museum, at the instigation of prof. Željko Poljak and with the efforts of prof. Ranko Mladina took over a large part of the collection (the so-called Museum) of the ENT clinic and accompanying documentation from the Zagreb School of Medicine in Šalata. This complex collection served for teaching and research purposes, and consists of otorhinolaryngological medical drawings – teaching posters, three-dimensional models, ear, nose and throat anatomy preparations, comparative anatomical preparations, esophagus pathology preparations (corrosion, perforation), larynx (tumors), pathological-anatomical preparations, foreign bodies removed from the upper part of the digestive and respiratory tract, medical instruments and devices.
The beginning of the creation of the collection goes back to the twenties of the last century. Already at the first ENT clinic at Draškovićeva 17 in Zagreb (1921), which was run by prof. Dragutin Mašek (1866 – 1956), a lecture hall was arranged that could accommodate a hundred students. Above the chair was a wall space for paintings, which were mostly painted by Mašek’s assistant at the time, Ante Šercer. Collections were also used for teaching and research purposes. They contained preparations from the anatomy of the ear, nose and throat and a collection of comparative anatomical preparations.
Nevertheless, the largest part of today’s ENT collection was created thanks to the special efforts of prof. Ante Šercer (1896 – 1968), head of the ENT clinic in the period from 1929 to 1945. For example, the collection of preparations of animal and human skulls served Šercer in scientific research on the consequences of the angulation of the base of the skull and the upright posture of man. Prof. Šercer described a collection of foreign objects removed from the upper part of the digestive and respiratory tract and accompanied it with illustrations in his work published in Liječnički vjesnik, no. 10, vol. 64 (1942): The collection of “foreign objects” of our clinic is among the richest, which can be seen in European ENT clinics and represents experience, which authorizes us to give practical doctors and first of all to our former and current students instructions and guidelines, which bear our personal mark (Fig. 1, 2, 3).
By taking over for the Croatian Museum of Medicine and Pharmacy, this valuable material was literally saved from destruction, because its fate was uncertain after the relocation of the Clinic, during the planning of the conversion of the space. If by any chance this collection had remained in the same area where it was, it would have certainly perished in the earthquake on March 22, 2020, which struck Zagreb and severely damaged the buildings of the School of Medicine, especially the building of the former ENT clinic. The Šercer collection, which was taken over and moved to its new location in the Museum’s temporary storage, was completely preserved and fortunately was not damaged during the earthquake. The distinctiveness and richness of the collection were the impetus for its inclusion in the concept of the permanent exhibition of the Museum, which was completed in 2016 and approved by the Croatian Museum Council on February 2, 2017, and in the scenario of the permanent exhibition, which was completed in 2018. In the Museum’s permanent display, selected materials from the Otorhinolaryngology collection will be presented in an exhibition unit called Branches of Medicine and Medical Spaces, and in addition to items from the Šercer collection, this exhibition unit also includes materials from donations by prof. Ranko Mladina and the Padovan family.