Panopticum / Panoptikum

These institutions were privately run and attracted audiences who were looking for entertainment. They usually offered a wax museum that showed national and international celebrities, scenes from fairytales or far away “exotic” places, depictions of ethnic groups from around the world, anatomical models and depictions of wide spread diseases. Usually they also had a concert/event hall where different touring shows performed, such as also human zoos. Panopticums worked in the intersection between entertainment and science, since they often featured ethnographic wax busts, exhibited ethnographic items and housed touring human zoos.

Castans Panopticum in Cologne:


with a mention of the “extra shows in the auditorium which include specialities, abnormities and foreign human races”

Castans Panopticum in Berlin:


postcard for a group of North American group:

Castans Panopticum in Frankfurt:

Passage Panopticum Berlin:


it mentions two scenes from Cameroon (then a German colony) in the wax museum and an exhibtion of ethnographic objects from Cameroon


human zoo groups at the Passage Panopticum:

1899 Balkan Feueresser:

1905/1906 Marokko:

1909 Singhalesen – Truppe von der Insel Ceylon:

1912 Somali-Dorf:

1921 Sudanesen-Truppe:

undated Hindu-Fakir-Truppe:

tickets for the Passage Panopticum:

Münchner Panoptikum / Hammer’s Panopticum:



W. Böhme’s Panopticum:

Panopticum Zürich:

Präuscher’s Panopticum & Menschenmuseum (Vienna):

booklet ca. 1910:

booklet from 1942:

it mentions ethnographic busts in the ethnographic exhibition

in the Panopticum im Prater (Vienna):

Gran Musée en Panopticum Carl Melich:


it mentions some ethnographic busts featured in the ethnographic exhibition

Museum Anthropologique et Anatomique Beziers:

booklet from 1892:

Panoptikum & anatomical-pathological Museum A. Kocky (Hungary)