The School of Obstetrics
Before the 1700s the practice of obstetrics had been in the hands of midwives, but in the 18th century there was a big effort to set the scientific grounds for the practice and turn it into a medical specialization.
In the course of the century, the art of childbirth became a subject worthy of being taught to surgeons and midwives. Giovanni Antonio Galli (1708-1782), a Professor in the School of Surgery of the University of Bologna, set up a School of Obstetrics at the Palazzo Poggi. There, the science of birthing was taught both to physician and to midwives according to a method devised by Galli himself. It included the use of three-dimensional wax tablets and clay models of the uterus as well as instruments such as the so-called “birthing machines” which simulated the real situations of gestation and childbirth.
With his teaching Giovanni Antonio Galli set forth an original educational methodology by which scientific knowledge and professionalism were achieved by the acquisition of both theoretical knowledge and practice. Together with the valuable equipment specifically developed for the teaching, it became a rare example for those years of a School of Obstetrics within a medical and surgical school.
Museo di Palazzo Poggi, Bologna, Italy