Josephinum, Vienna: College of Surgeons
"Collegium Medico-Chirurgicum-Josephinum"

The historic Vienna School of Surgeons is officially called "Collegium Medico-Chirurgicum-Josephinum", but generally rather known simply as "Josephinum". It can be found in North of the Votivkirche, in the ninth district of Vienna, the Alsergrund. It was founded in 1782 as a centralised academy for the training of surgeons that served in the Habsburg armies.

The Josephinum was named after and founded by Emperor Joseph II, the great emperor of enlightenment in Austria. The Josephinum′s headquarter is - like many things that were built under the rule of Joseph II - a very important example for neo-Classicist style and the most important piece of work by Isidor Marcellus Amandus Canevale. The latter one was a significant architect of this period.

The construction of the Josephinum was connected to the development of a nearby military hospital, the Militär-Garnisons-Hauptspital in today′s Van-Swieten-Gasse. Both buildings were erected between 1783 and 1785. According to a much disputed view by Hans Tietze, the Josephinum is a Classicist mini-version of the Baroque Austrian National Library at the Hofburg. Standing in front of the Josephinum, I admit that one can see a clear resemblance. Speaking of the front view: The central entrance area was built in very expensive stone from the quarries of Kaisersteinbruch.

Opening & Extension of the Josephinum in Vienna

Upon the occasion of the Josephinum′s opening, Emperor Joseph II had a special coin designed. Another side-reference: The National Mint of Austria is also a key-building of the Classicist era in Vienna, to be found next to the Stadtpark. Joseph II endowed a library of 6,000 volumes and donated 30,000 Gulden (no idea what that means, but apparently a large sum of money) towards the acquisition of anatomical wax models for the Anatomic-Pathologic Museum, which was and still is attached to the Josephinum. In addition, the Josephinum was given a collection of zoological, geological and botanical specimens.

In 1786, the Josephinum Academy was elevated to the same rank as a University College and gained the right to award Master degrees and Doctorates for surgery. Another move upwards was performed in 1822, when the Josephinum′s chair Johann Nepomuk Isfordink succeeded in convincing Emperor Franz I to elevate the Josephinum to a full university. In 1849, the Josephinum was closed down and its duties were merged with the University of Vienna. However, in 1854 it was re-opened as a division of the Military Academy, once again providing training for military surgeons.

Josephinum today: Museum for History of Medicine

Today, the Josephinum is home to the Institute for the History of Medicine of the Medical University of Vienna. Beyond that, it houses a museum that exhibits the anatomical specimens of the Josephinum collection. In the front yard, you can see a fountain depicting the goddess of medicine, Hygeia. It was made in 1787 by Johann Martin Fischer (he who saved the Donnerbrunnen fountain).

Attractions nearby are numerous: Note the Palais Clam-Gallas to the opposite of the Josephinum; the Spanisches Krankenhaus; the Strudelhofstiege and Palais Liechtenstein; the Freud Museum in Berggasse; the Altes AKH and Narrenturm; the Votivkirche and the main building of Vienna University.

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Further Reading

Official Website of the Josephinum

Institute for the History of Medicine, Vienna Medical Uni

Museum of the Medical University Josephinum