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Museo Veterinario Complutense
Museo Veterinario Complutense
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Facultad de Veterinaria. Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

Avenida Puerta de Hierro, s/n 28040 Madrid (ESPAÑA)
Tel.: (+34) 91 394 37 89
Fax: (+34) 91 394 37 89
FECYT Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
The Veterinary Museum

General information A stroll through history


Since the establishment of the Royal Veterinary College of Madrid, in 1793, important artistic, scientific and technical heritage has been collected. Originally the collection of objects, pieces and veterinary instrumentation had a clear educational goal. This first collection suffered a significant loss during the War of Independence (1808-1812), because the School was occupied by the troops of the French army.
Other events followed that altered the order of the Royal School, and therefore its assets, such as Riego\'s uprising or the Spanish Civil War of 1821-1823, with the occupation of the School by The Hundred Thousand Sons of St. Louis.

With the arrival of new guardians and teaching staff, who were more sensitive to the veterinary heritage, the historic tour of the cabinets and amphitheatre of the school begins. The foundation stone, of this long journey, was laid by the Duke of Alagón, in 1827, as he make the request to create a complete collection of surgical instruments and horseshoes for horses or other animals.

Museo Veterinario Complutense In 1828, Guillermo Sampedro Canela, Professor of Anatomy in the School, requested the inventory of the pieces for the creation of an anatomical cabinet, which would be added to the collection of horseshoes. This cabinet was enriched by incorporating a wide and varied range of pieces and objects: wax anatomical models, painted wood, teratological pieces, skeletons, prints and oil paintings of anatomical charts, etc.
During the 19th century, the Royal School suffers two transfers, one in 1864, moving to the building known as Casino de la Reina (Queen’s Casino), and later, in 1881, to the headquarters in Embajadores Street. Currently, there are not precise data about the transfers, but the heritage must have suffered inestimable loss and damage.

Museo Veterinario ComplutenseThe period known as the Embajadores School can be considered as one of the most splendid for the veterinary heritage. It was possible to collect numerous anatomical specimens, skeletons, biological preparations (of Natural History), mounted animals, paintings, etc. Of particular value were the collections presented in the anterooms and cabinets that were formed. This resulted mainly in the consolidation of the museums of Anatomy and Teratology.

Museo Veterinario ComplutenseDuring the Civil War, the heritage was dispersed and many parts and facilities of the Museum disappeared or deteriorated. To avoid losing the pictorial heritage in deposit it was returned to the Museo del Prado. After the war and, progressively, the recovery of heritage starts and the museum is again restored under the name of Museo Anatómico y de Teratología Veterinaria.

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Universidad Complutense transfers one last time after the closing of the Embajadores School in 1958. This is probably one of the darkest episodes in the history of the collection. The conditions of the transfer were inadequate and many of the pieces disappeared or were sold as trinkets at the flea market in Madrid.
In the academic year 1968-69 the remaining anatomy material was relocated to its corresponding Professorship offices, no longer a museum but a collection, with minor entity. In parallel, the Surgery Professorship gradually reconstructs a collection of instruments and equipment for podiatry and surgery from various sources.

The museum is reborn, after a long hiatus, linked to the subject of History of Veterinary Medicine. In 1997, in the Complutense University the subject of History of Veterinary Medicine was taught again by with collaboration from the current director, Dr. Joaquín Sánchez de Lollano. He assumed the responsibility of teaching the subject during the academic year of 2003. Since then, apart from the personal collection gathered in their previous destinations as a veterinarian or health inspector of the Community of Madrid, he receives personal donations from other partners of slaughterhouses, clinics, etc. He also collects different materials delivered after conferences and classes in other schools and veterinary associations. In this way the recovery of the heritage begins as a support for the optional subject.

Museo Veterinario Complutense Furthermore, in 2004 some students handed-in faculty heritage found dumped in containers which served to initiate much needed action. Coupled with this, the need to promote the subject required more dedication. With the involvement of the Dean this change in the subject is accomplished and, from 2005-2006, it becomes a permanent full-time position (first job position in the history of the Spanish university that is dedicated to the subject.)

With the collaboration of the dean team and the veterinarian Isabel Mencía Valdenebro a project to evaluate the state of preservation and to restore some of the old collections from the Embajadores headquarters begins. Thus initiating the collection of scattered veterinary heritage believed to be lost, laying the foundation for projects aimed at creating a veterinary museum. Endowments gradually increase in size and quality after the incorporation, through collaboration and involvement of teachers, of the entire collection from the Anatomy and Comparative Pathology Department. Similarly, through the mediation of teachers of the subject of Pharmacology, and the heads of the Medicine and Surgery Department, the collection of the Surgery Department was incorporated at the end of 2005.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Office for Culture, Sport and Social Policy supported the heritage restoration project providing technical advice and incorporating Noelle Rodriguez Garrido, graduate in History, as supporting staff.

The collection continues to increase and it is expected to recover, through adequate dissemination, the heritage that is in the hands of former teachers and retired vets.