Pubblicato il: 24/10/2022
Cristina Cattaneo, Head of LABANOF and Full Professor of Legal Medicine and Anthropology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health at the entrance of the Museum

Cristina Cattaneo, Head of LABANOF and Full Professor of Legal Medicine and Anthropology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health at the entrance of the Museum

An offshoot of the Laboratory of Anthropology and Forensic Odontology (Laboratorio di Antropologia e Odontologia Forense – LABANOF) of the University of Milan, the University Museum of Anthropological, Medical, and Forensic Sciences for Human Rights (Museo Universitario delle Scienze Antropologiche, Mediche e Forensi per i Diritti Umani – MUSA) extends the role of science in reducing violence and promoting human rights.

MUSA was officially presented on 19 October. It is coordinated by Cristina Cattaneo, Head of LABANOF and Full Professor of Legal Medicine and Anthropology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health. 

The creation of MUSA has been made possible by support from Fondazione Cariplo, Fondazione Isacchi Samaja Onlus, and Terre des Hommes. The museum is sponsored by the Italian Society of Legal Medicine and Insurance (Società Italiana di Medicina Legale e delle Assicurazioni – SIMLA) and the Provincial Order of Surgeons and Dentists of Milan (Ordine Provinciale dei Medici Chirurghi e degli Odontoiatri di Milano – OMCeO Milano).

The objective of the University museum is to expand the role of medical, anthropological, and forensic sciences in reducing violence and promoting human rights. Everyone is aware of the importance of science and medicine in treating infections, tumours, and many other diseases, but few know the fundamental role they play in combating violations of human rights. Here, a leading role is played by disciplines that study the body in all its forms to reconstruct its past—recent or remote—through an examination of a living person or animal, a corpse, or a skeleton.

Science and medicine applied to the body in all its forms become a powerful tool for combating violence and protecting human rights. This is the message championed by MUSA to design a better future through a new and improved interpretation of the past,” explains Cristina Cattaneo.

I am very happy to take part in the inauguration of the University Museum of Anthropological, Medical, and Forensic Sciences for Human Rights, which for us represents the first in a series of new facilities that will contribute to the valorization of the Città Studi campus,” states Elio Franzini, Rector of the University of Milan. “In line with the interdisciplinary character of our University, MUSA represents an original and novel synthesis of anthropological sciences and history disciplines for the promotion of health and the protection of human rights."

MUSA is an offshoot of LABANOF, the Laboratory of Anthropology and Forensic Odontology of the University of Milan, which has twenty-five years of scientific research and teaching to its credit. Focusing on forensic practices such as identification, inspection, crime statistics, and abuse, its primary source material is the LABANOF Anthropological Collection (CAL), the osteological collection of the University of Milan, assembled in 2017 and officially recognized by Regione Lombardia in 2018 as a museum collection.

Composed of nearly ten thousand skeletons, principally from Milan and Lombardy in all historical periods, CAL is one of the world’s largest osteological collections. It was created thanks to the collaboration of the Superintendency for Archaeological Heritage, Regione Lombardia, the Municipality of Milan, the Office of the State’s Attorney of Milan, and the Lombardy Health Agency (ATS). The collection is composed of skeletons from old necropolises, modern cemeteries, or unclaimed remains. It represents a unique source for developing new methods to determine identity, sicknesses, and causes of violent death, both for historians and for the criminal justice system.

The Museum of Anthropological, Medical, and Forensic Sciences for Human Rights is the expression of a deep-seated concept of justice for individuals and is an emblematic example of how it is possible, through science, to create social and cultural value for the entire community. This is the perspective reflected in Fondazione Cariplo’s support for MUSA as a locus where a number of bodies of knowledge come together to make a significant contribution to our knowledge of individual and collective history,” states Giovanni Fosti, President of Fondazione Cariplo.

MUSA sends a strong and important message that relates, explains, and reminds us how poverty and vulnerability have been a continuous theme in history, creating a situation of widespread injustice, a situation that the combined efforts of science and social support can seek to limit. This is the message that Fondazione Isacchi Samaja has sought to transmit, giving a voice to the weakest among us. One way that it has taken concrete form is the long and fruitful collaboration with LABANOF in the recovery and identification of the victims of shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. Thanks to MUSA, operators trained by Fondazione Isacchi Samaja and working on this project can communicate and report the extreme poverty they have observed and propose solutions to fight it in the name of human rights,” explains father Aristide Cabassi, President of Fondazione Isacchi Samaja Onlus.

MUSA represents an important achievement in the long collaboration between Terre des Homes and LABANOF, working together for years to combat violence against children and protection for migrating minors. We are proud to place our competencies in protecting children at the service of this project. And we thank ‘RAI per la Sostenibilità ESG’ for contributing funding to the museum through a special fundraising drive on the program ‘I Soliti Ignoti’,” adds Donatella Vergari, President of Terre des Hommes Italia. Thanks to the support of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, Terre des Hommes will take MUSA to schools and promote its message in Italy and Europe.

MUSA Sections

The museum currently has six sections outfitted with illustrative panels, dioramas, exhibits, videos, and animations. They will also have QR codes, a small area with audio guides and tactile models dedicated to those with vision disabilities, and a computer that can be reserved by visitors to research closed legal cases in Italy and internationally and access videos, legal opinions, and podcasts.

Introductory Section: The first room features an animated video introducing visitors to the museum and six wall-mounted dioramas illustrating the phases in the study of human remains, from their original condition to dating, determination of gender, age, ethnicity, illnesses, and traces of violence.

Historical-Archaeological Section: This section is in part a storage facility for a portion of the LABANOF Anthropological Collection consisting of some 1,500 skeletons, and partly an area illustrating the development of Milan over the course of two thousand years based on its skeletons. The subsections are: Roman, Early and Late Middle Ages, and the Early and Late Modern Period.

Identity Section: This section addresses the important and poorly known question of the right to an identity of the dead. By means of panels, animations, and interviews, it addresses the theme of ambiguous loss (of those who do not know if their lost loved one is alive or dead), the scientific identification of human remains, statistics and questions associated with unidentified bodies on the national and international levels, mass catastrophes (such as the Linate plane crash), and a particular focus on those dying nameless while migrating.

Crime Section: With the help of scale models, this section illustrates the work of legal medicine, forensic anthropology, and forensic sciences in general in helping law enforcement in the four typical phases or response to lethal crimes such as murder and corpse concealment: inspection of concealed human corpses or remains; autopsy; laboratory investigation; and the hearing. The action of law enforcement is also illustrated, with particular emphasis on the work of forensic experts at the crime scene and in the laboratory.

Survivors Section: There are four stations in this room that illustrate, with animations and videos, the importance of forensic medicine and science in caring for survivors, as in the case of victims of abuse, sexual violence, or torture of humans or animals.

Melilli-il Barcone Mission: The itinerary ends with an immersive exhibit dedicated to one of the most catastrophic recent events and a symbol of human rights violations: the deaths of some one thousand children and adults on 18 April 2015 when the fishing boat taking them to Europe sank off the coast of Libya.

Visit MUSA

Open to the public starting on Wednesday, 2 November. Entrance at Via Ponzio 7. Free admission.


  • Tuesday: 2:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Wednesday: 2:00 – 6:00 pm, with the support of volunteers from Touring Club Italiano
  • Thursday: 2:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Friday: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm (2:00 – 6:00 pm with the support of volunteers from Touring Club Italiano)
  • Saturday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm with the support of volunteers from Touring Club Italiano
  • Closed Sunday and Monday

For information or group reservations:

The museum is open to the public thanks to the support of volunteers from the Touring Club Italiano as part of the “Open for You” project, which has promoted the systematic and continuous opening of places of art and culture since 2005.