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1150 Insect model, worker bee bearing wax, papier mache / metal / hair, made by Dr Auzoux, Paris, France, 1883. Click to enlarge.

Model of a worker bee

Made by Auzoux, Louis in France, 1883.
This is a papier mache model of a worker bee bearing wax made in France by Dr Auzoux and purchased by the Museum. In May 1883 the then curator, Joseph Maiden, spent the then substantial sum of 212 pounds on model bees and honeycomb. Made by the Paris workshop of Dr Auzoux, they could be taken apart to show their internal workings. The models formed part of a large display demonstrating methods of bee keeping and processing honey and beeswax.

The bees remained on show for many years. In the 1930s during the Great Depression the display was updated when people were looking for new ways to make money.


Object No.


Object Statement

Insect model, worker bee bearing wax, papier mache / metal / hair, made by Dr Auzoux, Paris, France, 1883

Physical Description

Model of a worker bee bearing wax, made of papier mache, metal and hair. The bee is painted black and brown with orange horizontal stripes on the exterior of the abdomen and underneath. A section of the abdomen can be removed by a hook to show the internal organs, including the intestines, which are painted pink, green and white. The bee has three pairs of legs, with the two rear ones being covered in hair, and two pairs of wings which are folded back. The antennae at the front are black with bands of white lines that fold downwards.


On the exterior of the bee are black printed labels on small white circular and square pieces of paper including 'B', '(hand pointing) 4', '1', '(hand pointing) 1' and '1' on the outside of the abdomen. On the left wing is '10' and '16', '17', '8' and '15' appear on the left hairy leg with '11' on the front leg. The following marks also appear on the underside of the body from top to bottom, '2', '1', '4', '8', '7', '6', '12', '14', '13', '19' and '20'. On the internal organs is, '5', '(hand pointing) 2', '29', '28', '26', '2', '22', '3', '27', '24' and '30'. On the underside of the covering of the organs is '8', '5', '3', '6', '4' and '7'.



45 mm


130 mm



This model was produced by Louis Thomas Jerome Auzoux who was born in Normandy in 1797. He obtained a medical degree in 1818 and was appointed to the surgical department of the Hotel-Dieu, with celebrated Dupuytren, the 'Napoleon of surgery.' The shortage of anatomical teaching materials prompted Auzoux, a year later, to begin experimenting with making models. Models in wax were available but were very expensive. In contrast, papier mache was comparatively inexpensive, stable and able to be easily moulded. Furthermore, it was strong enough to allow each model to be taken apart to show the arrangement of organs. Noting the techniques of Parisian doll and puppet makers, Auzoux developed a paper paste, which allowed papier mache models to harden as a solid, supple, light and durable object. This improved upon the early papier mache techniques of Francois Ameline. Auzoux created models, which could be taken to pieces and reassembled, with each part labelled, showing internal anatomy. He called these models 'Anatomie clastique' and designed them for both lay and expert audiences.

In 1822 he presented a life-sized model of the human pelvis at the Academie Royale de Medicine, and from 1825 commissions from educational institutions flooded in - requesting human, botanical and veterinary models. Auzoux opened a small factory, in Saint Aubin d'Ecrosville, in 1828, soon employing 100 workers. In 1833, Auzoux established a shop in the rue du Poan in Paris. Over the next century and a half the range increased to some 600 models, the majority zoological and botanical with 100 relating to human anatomy. For many years the Auzoux family had a shop in the Rue du medecine in Paris. The shop finally closed in the 1990s and the contents were sold at auction on 22 October 1998.

The models are made with a grey paper pulp, containing granular particles and short fibres. Flax is added to the pulp for models of insect parts, veins and nerves. Auzoux used moulds made from plaster and, later, innovative anatomy moulds for the solid parts of the models. Plaster coats the outside for strength and to provide a base for the paint. The paint is protein-based egg tempera and is protected by a layer of Russian fish glue for models made before 1917, and wood varnish for models made afterwards.

The system of labelling was another of Auzoux's innovations: Labels with pointing hands and numbers show where the parts of the model may be disassembled. Anatomical names of the different model parts form a second order in the hierarchy of the anatomy. A third order is the small round numbered labels appearing on some parts, the associated description of which appeared in the accompanying catalogue.

See B.W.J. Goob, 'The Anatomical Models of Dr Louis Auzoux' A Descriptive Catalogue (Leiden: Museum Boerhaave Communication 305, 2004)



Dr Auzoux's factory in Paris produced many different animal models, including insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, wild and domestic mammals, and botanical specimens. His models were popular for use in teaching and museums developed exhibits comparing the differences between botanical models, human and veterinary structures.


Credit Line

Purchased 1883

Acquisition Date

12 May 1883

Cite this Object


Model of a worker bee 2016, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 May 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Model of a worker bee |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=28 May 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Collection Gallery 4 at the Museums Discovery Centre.

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