Project

Theatrum Anatomicum

The Waag's Theatrum Anatomicum was built in 1691 as a space dedicated to advanced experimenting, observing and learning.

On the more scientific side it was the place where leading figures of the surgeon's guild dissected the corpses of many criminals to expose the anatomy of the human body and help advance medical science. At later stages these dissections turned into events where not just medical professionals or students, but also the man in the street could have a glance at this intriguing, taboo-breaking world of new discoveries. For this part of the audience, the spots higher up on the amphitheatric benches were available at low prices.

Today, after several constructional modifications, the original floor of the Theatrum has moved up and the benches are gone. But the room still bears the traces of this time and through its octagonal shape invites you to imagine its former function as a stage for hands-on experimental research.

Since 1996 there have been many new media experiments and artists installations in the Theatrum. For several years there were plans to transform the space into a Theatrum Anatomicum Digitalis. This would be the modern variant on the originating purpose.

An example was the installation in 1998 of Joep van Lieshout within the framework of the project Brandon. The form of the amphitheater was brought back to three circles hanging in the middle of Theatrum Anatomicum. The circles were made of steel. A white table was placed within the circles, on which the Brandon site was projected.

Later installations can be found within the Connected programme, such as Music Box by Beth Coleman and Howard Goldkrand.

At this moment the Theatrum has a modern theatre equipment for lighting, sound and streaming media facilities. This space can also be rented for presentations. A number of our public events, like debates and small exhibitions, are held in this space.

Duration of the project: 
11-03-1998