Blaschka's Glass Models

The Zoological Collection of the University of Vienna holds 156 valuable Blaschka glass models. The majority of these Viennese models are representations of marine invertebrate animals.

As an exceptional feature, the models combine high quality of arts and crafts with scientific exactness. They are either accurate three-dimensional illustrations of single specimens or idealized, i.e., typical portraits of species.

Studies of the biological structures always preceded the process of model building. Alcohol-preserved animals as well as living specimens were intensively used for the preparatory work of morphological analyses. The models are technically perfect constructions of plastic art, made by hand and blowing pipe.

Many artists of the Art Nouveau were inspired by these biological models. Scientific exactness was no longer interpreted as a contradiction to art, but as a new quality. The themes of repetition, symmetries, direction vs. movement, simplicity vs. complexity, and unity vs. variation have been revealed to be timeless and common to nature & art.

Text: Maximilian Petrasko

Blaschka's glass models from the Zoological Collection © Maximilian Petrasko, Gregor Eder, Florian Huber