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In the mid-19th century, Virchow went on what could only be described as a crazed collecting spree.

According to local press reports, the board sought to play down the issue, saying: "There are currently no plans to close the museum." But that's not the whole story.

According to the minutes of its June 28 meeting, the board asked an employee in the administration's finance division to "outline possibilities for future development" by September.

As promising as this might sound, it's actually extremely depressing news for Schnalke.

Indeed, the options for such "future development" include "shutting down the museum" and "moving the collections to other museums." Both fans of the famous collection of preserved specimens and hospital employees are outraged over the possibility that the museum might close.

" Many of the collection's treasures remain unknown even to museum staff.

"We haven't made our way through the entire collection yet," Schnalke says.

For over a century, Berlin's Charité Hospital has been home to the formaldehyde-soaked brains and babies making up the collection of Rudolf Virchow, the grandfather of pathology.

But hospital administrators are now threatening to shut its doors for good.

"The museum is being abandoned by a board that doesn't realize what a wealth of medical history and irreplaceable treasures it is destroying," says Michael Tsokos, the head of the hospital's Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences.

Not Your Everyday Collection Indeed, Virchow's collection of skulls, organs, fetuses and limbs has no parallel in the entire world.

In post-war East Germany, the museum remained closed and became little more than a storage room.

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