The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us
5139 Westlawn
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax (319) 384-4638

Release: Feb. 18, 2002

(PHOTO: One of the skeleton images from the new interactive "Anatomia Universa.")

Hardin's Information Commons makes rare anatomical illustrations on Web more interactive

The Information Commons Production Services, based in the University of Iowa's Hardin Library for Health Sciences, has made online viewing of rare anatomical illustrations more interactive with the Web release of part two of "Anatomia Universa," a book by noted anatomist Paolo Mascagni.

Published as a series between 1823 and 1832, the physical "Anatomia Universa" is a comprehensive work of anatomy lacking only microscopic anatomy, histology and the lymphatics of the skin. The beautifully executed plates depict the anatomical and skeletal structure of the human body in great detail. The UI's copy appears to be one of only three or four copies in the United States.

Previously, users accessing "Anatomia Universa" on the Web were able to see individual plates in three views: thumbnail, small and medium. With the new QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) release, the added format provides dynamic zooming and panning across each plate for more detailed viewing. Plates that feature multiple illustrations have the added feature of "hot spots." By clicking once on a distinct illustration, users can see that illustration in isolation but still retain the interactive zooming and panning function.

The technique for delivering high-resolution imagery with interactive controls provides an alternative interface and opportunity for scholars to interact with and to analyze these images. The QTVR format can be applied to any kind of two-dimensional image, such as photographs, drawings and maps.

"Medical faculty and students will find this Web resource useful in terms of medical history and anatomy, but so will art history faculty and students interested in the illustrations themselves," said Jim Duncan, coordinator of the Hardin Library's Information Commons and Electronic Services.

Tim Bryant, a graduate student in the UI School of Library and Information Science, produced the site's QTVR components and greatly improved the site's internal structure and navigation. The recently implemented QTVR section of the "Anatomia Universa" project was coordinated by Scott Fiddelke, digital media project manager at the Information Commons, and is based on a technique developed by Duncan.

The Information Commons Production Services provide consultation and award-winning production services in Web, multimedia and other electronic publishing technologies.

Visit the "Anatomia Universa" Web project at For more information, contact Jim Duncan at (319) 335-6928 or by e-mail at


University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at