The aim of our project is twofold: We would like to draw the public’s attention to the diversity of slides collections and the scientists’ to some hidden treasures in their cellars….
The following text gives a short description of our findings in the archives of some Berlin Museums. If you have information about a related website or a historical slide collection, we’d be thankful for a mail to the Coordinator.


Humboldt Universität Berlin, Inst. of Biology/Dept. for Comparative Zoology

At the Zoological Institute of the Berlin University the Slides Collection forms a part of the much bigger teaching collection. Founded in 1884, it comprises 2.500 skeletons, animals and insect boxes, 600 wall charts/Wandtafeln and more than 100 Models, among which are the famous glass animals, made by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, and wax models from Adolf and Friedrich Ziegler. Though it suffered from World War II and some university reforms, the collection still is regarded as one of the biggest teaching collections in Germany.

Zoological Slides

Contact: Prof. Dr. Gerhard Scholtz, email:

The institute houses a collection of ca. 30.000 microscope slides as part of the audio-visual teaching resources, which are still in use today. The origin of the slides is in most cases carefully documented: some were made by scientists; others purchased from commercial suppliers. The department also conserves historical collections, “working material” of scientists that founded the department in the 19th century, as well as collections made during scientific expeditions. In addition, the department has old  microtomes, historical tools for histology and a camera lucida (a modern camera lucida is still used to draw specimens). The collection is especially interesting for the relations between slides and productions methods as well as slides and other scientific objects: For example the voyage of the 'Challenger' left its traces in the Blaschkas' oeuvre, in their complex glass models of sponges found by the expedition. The models were commissioned by Professor Franz Eilhard Schulze of Berlin, in 1885, and were based on illustrations of Schulze's research and his own microscopic slides.


Museum of Natural History, Berlin

Contact:  Dr. Birger Neuhaus, email:

The collection "Vermes" contains a mixture of invertebrate, worm-like animals which are generally not phylogenetically related to each other. About 100,000 specimens (worms conserved in ethanol and microscope slides) are catalogued under some 30,000 lot numbers. The collection includes a rich documentation on the origins of specific sub-collections (some were made by amateur or semi-amateur scientists, others by professionals), and their circulation. It contains type material of more than 2,140 species which can be searched in the database SeSam ( ). Specimens were and are lent to other scientists in order to facilitate comparative studies. The conservation status of the slide collection was evaluated with a modified "Smithsonian Collections Standards and Profiling System". (About 16% of the slides suffer from danger of loss of primary information, mainly because of problems with the embedding medium.)


Histological Slides

Contact: Curator Dr. Peter Giere, email:

A treasure house of comparative embryology - Since August 2004 the Natural History Museum, Berlin houses the famous Hubrecht and Hill collections. A.A.W. Hubrecht, Professor of Zoology at Utrecht University, began collecting embryos in the late 19th Century. The initial collection consisted mainly of European mammalian species, later widened by samples from the former Dutch colonies, the Indonesian Archipelago. It contains ca. 600 species, as alcoholic or microscopic preparation. With ca. 2000 glasses and 80.000 histological slides the Hubrecht collection is the largest collection of its kind and approached by scientists from all over the world. The collection assembled by Professor J.P. Hill early in the 20th century, is of comparable size. This series consists mainly of marsupial embryos from Australia, Africa and South America and, as the Hubrecht Collection, includes many associated records, collection notebooks, as well as detailed laboratory notebooks, unpublished notes, and many formidable illustrations, both published and unpublished. In addition to the main collections there are smaller, though no less important contributions from other scientists. The slides are stored in the original cupboards from the Hubrecht laboratory.


Medical History Museum, Berlin and Institute for Pathology, Charitè Berlin

The original idea of the former "Pathological Museum" was to document all human diseases in authentic preparations, for scientific and teaching purposes: During his lifetime, the renown pathologist Rudolf Virchow put together one of the biggest collections of pathological preparations worldwide. When his "Pathological Museum"  was opened to the public in 1899, it presented over 23.000 objects and preparations. The Berlin Medical Historical Museum is the successor of Virchow's Pathological Museum and is located in the former museum building of the Institute of Pathology on the traditional grounds of the Charité   The permanent collection currently shows some 850 objects comprising pathological-anatomical wet and dry specimens as well as models, and graphics.

Pathological Slides

Contact: Prof. Dr. Thomas Schnalke, email:
Despite Virchow´s acute interest in microscopy - he even thought of a microscopic lecture hall for his museum- the focus of the collection was and is on macroscopic specimens. As World War 2 destroyed the bigger part of Virchow´s collections, not many slides survived. Among the preserved objects a present by Josef Hyrtl is most interesting: three slides in a frame are presented like a precious portrait. They cannot be looked at with a microscope, but only with a magnifying glass. At the neighbouring Institute for Pathology of the Charité workshop participants were provided with insights into the routines of nowadays pathology. Slides and paraffin blocks are part of everyday business, are stored case-wise for further reference - they also might be used for yet unknown methods of diagnosis.