Museum Bleulandinum is organized around the collection of Jan Bleuland (1756-1838), a medical doctor and professor of
anatomy and obstetrics at Utrecht University. Prof. Dr. Bleuland was well known for the high quality of his anatomical models, which
he prepared himself using highly innovative techniques. Among Bleuland's greatest achievements were preparations displaying vascular systems,
in which he made even the tiniest blood vessels visible by injecting concoctions of dye or mercury. Another of Bleuland's specialties was
in finding methods which accurately preserved the true colors and textures of organs, which in less careful
hands might become bleached and shrunken.
In addition to creating his own preparations, Bleuland actively acquired examples of
earlier masters, most notably specimens crafted by Amsterdam anatomist Frederik Ruysch (1638-1731), whose elaborate and often allegorical presentations
disguised the voorsnijder's cuts with items of jewelry and clothing. One fine example to be found on display in the museum is Ruysch's
“Kinderhoofdje met Turkse muts” (Child's head with Turkish cap).
In 1815, Willem I of the Netherlands (1772-1843) purchased Bleuland's collection and donated it to Utrecht University,
which took ownership upon Bleuland's death in 1838. Clearly enthusiastic about the benefit this collection would have in the education of future doctors, Willem issued a royal decree
the following year that all Dutch universities install such cabinets, which was surely a boon to education in general and anatomists
like Bleuland in particular.
Today, the Museum Bleulandinum includes the original 475 objects purchased from Bleuland (Collectie Bleuland),
anatomical waxes by Petrus Koning (1787-1834), a library of important historical medical texts, and several other anatomy and
embryology collections — including examples of modern plastination. The museum now resides within Utrecht's Universitair Medisch Centrum.