What is BODY WORLDS?
BODY WORLDS: The Original Exhibition of Real Human Bodies (also known by its German name KÖRPERWELTEN), is the first exhibition of its kind to inform the visitor about anatomy, physiology, and health by viewing real human bodies. The specimens on display were preserved through Plastination, the preservation process invented by Dr. von Hagens in 1977, while he was working as an anatomist at the University of Heidelberg.
Since the beginning of the exhibition series in Japan in 1995nearly 40 million visitors in over 90 cities in Europe, America, Africa and Asia have seen the world’s most successful special exhibition so far.
What does BODY WORLDS show?
Each BODY WORLDS exhibition contains more than 200 real human specimens, including about 20 full-body plastinates as well as individual organs, organ configurations, and transparent body slices. The spectacular plastinates in the exhibition take the visitor on an exciting journey of discovery under the skin. It provides a comprehensive insight into the anatomy and physiology of the human body. In addition to organ functions, common diseases are described in an easily understood manner by comparing healthy and affected organs. They show the long-term impact of diseases and addictions, such as tobacco or alcohol consumption, and demonstrate the mechanics of artificial knee and hip joints.
How do the various BODY WORLDS exhibitions that are being shown differ from each other?
While all of the BODY WORLDS exhibitions focus on general anatomy revealed through Plastination, each exhibition is currently being shown with dedicated themes—on cardiology and the heart (BODY WORLDS & The Story of the Heart), human development, longevity and aging (BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life), the body´s capability and vitality (BODY WORLDS Vital), the story of the human body in the 21st century (BODY WORLDS: Pulse) and the influence that ‘happiness’ has on our health (BODY WORLDS: The Happiness Project). The exhibitions show a multitude of brand new plastinates and offer every visitor—even the ardent BODY WORLDS visitor—a fascinating exhibition experience.
The exhibition, BODY WORLDS & The Story of the Heart reveals – through the lenses of anatomy, cardiology, psychology, and culture – how the heart nourishes, regulates, and sustains life.
The heart is the steadfast engine of our life. Due to this continuous strain it is also susceptible to wear and tear and to dysfunctions. Diseases of the cardiovascular system are the leading cause of death today. The exhibition also highlights other facets of this vital organ. In religion, art, literature, and pop culture, the heart is seen as a symbol of love, compassion, happiness, and courage.
The exhibition gives visitors profound insight into the human body, health and disease, and the intricate world of the cardiovascular system.
BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life features a special presentation on the human life cycle and ageing – from prenatal development and infancy, to childhood and adolescence, to youth, adulthood, and old age. It shows the body living through time – at its most radiant, and as it changes, grows, matures, peaks, and finally wanes. The exhibition shows the complexity, resilience, and vulnerability of the human body through anatomical studies of the body in distress, disease, and optimal health. Visitors to The Cycle of Life will witness the arc of ageing – the body living through the span of time – from the spark of conception to old age, refracted through the latest findings in longevity and ageing science.
BODY WORLDS VITAL presents a special collection of specimens designed to show visitors the basics for human health and wellness. The exhibition includes whole-body plastinates, a large arrangement of individual organs, organ and arterial configurations, and translucent slices that give a complete picture of how the human body works. Vital tells the fascinating story of how best to fight life-threatening diseases—such as cancer, diabetes, and heart ailments—through healthy choices and lifestyle changes.
BODY WORLDS: PULSE shows the science and splendor of the human body, and deconstructs its form and function. It presents the body in health and distress, its vulnerabilities and potential, and many of the challenges the human body faces as it navigates the 21st Century. BODY WORLDS: PULSE is a convergence of aesthetic anatomy, the latest findings in health and wellness, immersive multimedia, and narrative storytelling threaded with deep metaphors. It shows the possibility of living mindfully, with meaning and vitality, by refracting the story of life and self-actualization, through the donors, who have committed to educating future generations. All BODY WORLDS exhibitions generlly present different plastinates, which is most evident in the whole-body plastinates which each vary in pose and display.
BODY WORLDS: The Happiness Project marks an entirely new chapter in the already impressive range of BODY WORLDS exhibitions. A permanent exhibition exploring what happiness is and the science behind it. “The Happiness Project” tells the story of our bodies and the influence that the emotional phenomenon of ‘happiness’ has on our health. Over 200 anatomical specimens of real human bodies reveal the complexity, resilience and vulnerability of the body. Visitors learn for example that people who are happy, live longer than people who are unhappy. That is good news in a country whose population has been one of the happiest in the world. Recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO) even shows that Dutch youth is the happiest in the western world.
All BODY WORLDS exhibitions generlly present different plastinates, which is most evident in the whole-body plastinates which each vary in pose and display.
What is the purpose of the exhibition?
BODY WORLDS aims to educate the public about the inner workings of the human body and show the effects of poor health, good health, and lifestyle choices. It is also presented in the hopes that it will stimulate curiosity about the science of anatomy and physiology.
Who should see BODY WORLDS?
Anyone interested in learning what makes us human. Adults of all ages and children will find the exhibits fascinating. Given the nature of the BODY WORLDS exhibits, it is up to parents, guardians, or school staff to decide whether BODY WORLDS is appropriate for the children in their care.
Is this exhibition appropriate for children?
Nearly 40 million people, including young children, have viewed the BODY WORLDS exhibitions around the world. If you’re considering bringing children or school groups to BODY WORLDS, visit our online resources section to find out how to use the exhibition as a learning experience.
Where else has BODY WORLDS been exhibited? Where will they be on display next?
There are seven BODY WORLDS exhibitions, which have been viewed by nearly 40 million people throughout the world. BODY WORLDS exhibitions have been displayed in Europe, America, Africa and Asia. Additional BODY WORLDS exhibitions are planned. If you would like to know in what cities the exhibitions will be on display next, please go to our official web site, www.bodyworlds.com, where you will find an overview of past and future exhibition venues. If you are interested in receiving additional information on current exhibitions, you may sign up online for the BODY WORLDS newsletter.
Why is it important for the public to see these exhibitions?
The organisers of BODY WORLDS believe that when people understand more about how the body works and how it can break down, they are more likely to choose healthy and sustainable lifestyles. We also hope it will inspire visitors to learn more about the life sciences. Knowledge about what the human body looks like and how it functions is basic life science information that should be available to everyone. During the run of the exhibition, we will be actively reaching out to educators and medical professionals to ensure that they have the opportunity to experience the exhibition.
Would I be able to learn just as much from books or models of the human anatomy?
The use of authentic specimens allows a penetrating examination and study of disease, physiology, and anatomy unmatched by models, textbooks, or photos. In addition, the exhibition allows visitors to understand that each and every body has its own unique features, even on the inside. The experience in other cities has clearly demonstrated that exhibit visitors are drawn to real specimens in a way that cannot be replicated by models.
Are there animals in the BODY WORLDS exhibitions, as well?
Most BODY WORLDS exhibitions have a few animal specimens on display. Due to the great popularity of the animal plastinates, Dr. Gunther von Hagens and Dr. Angelina Whalley were encouraged to create the new exhibition BODY WORLDS of Animals which now tours the world under the name ANIMAL INSIDE OUT. The display features the most popular species in the animal kingdom. Better than any textbook, this fascinating exhibition shows the complex, amazing biology of the natural world’s most remarkable creatures and their nervous system, bones, muscles, and organs. ANIMAL INSIDE OUT also allows a peek under the elephant’s skin. Its trunk with a network of 40,000 muscles is an incredibly unique feature that has many different uses. And who would have known that a giraffe uses its 20-inch-long bluish tongue like a hand? ANIMAL INSIDE OUT’s educational approach is particularly suitable for young visitors. For more information: www.AnimalInsideOut.com.
What is Plastination?
Plastination is a unique process invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens in 1977 to preserve specimens for medical education. The process replaces bodily fluids and soluble fat in specimens with fluid plastics that harden after vacuum-forced impregnation. After the bodies are fixed into lifelike poses, they are hardened with gas, heat, or light. The plastinates show how our bodies respond internally to movements in everyday life, as well as during athletic activities. For more information about Plastination, go to www.bodyworlds.com.
Will we know who the plastinates are or how they died?
The BODY WORLDS exhibitions rely on the generosity of body donors; individuals who bequeathed that, upon their death, their bodies could be used for educational purposes in the exhibition. All the whole-body plastinates and the majority of the specimens are from these body donors; only some organs, fetuses and specific specimens that show unusual conditions come from old anatomical collections and morphological institutesAs agreed upon by the body donors, their identities and causes of death are not disclosed. The exhibition focuses on the nature of our bodies, not on providing personal information.
BODY WORLDS exhibitions are based on an established body donation program through which the body donors specifically request that their bodies could be used in a public exhibition after their deaths.
Why are the plastinates posed the way they are?
The poses of the plastinates have been carefully thought out and serve educational aims. Each plastinate is posed to illustrate different anatomical features. For instance, the athletic poses illustrate the use of muscle systems while playing sports. The poses are chosen to highlight specific anatomical features and allow the visitor to relate the plastinate to his or her own body.
Have the ethical questions concerning this exhibition been addressed?
Before the North American premiere of BODY WORLDS, a distinguished committee of theologians, ethicists, academics, and medical luminaries conducted an independent ethics review The Ethics Review of the origins of bodies in BODY WORLDS — conducted by the California Science Center, Los Angeles — is available for download on our website.
Is there an audio tour?
Audio guides are offered for an additional fee. The audio tours are designed for the layman. They are available in Dutch and English versions.
How long can you stay inside the exhibits?
You can stay as long as you like, within the opening hours. We recommend allowing yourself about one to two hours. The length of time will vary on how long each visitor wishes to examine each specimen and read the information provided. An audio tour will increase your time in the exhibits. Reentry to the exhibition is not allowed, once you exit.
Can you take photographs or film in the exhibitions?
Photography and filming, including pictures taken with cell phones, are not allowed in the BODY WORLDS exhibitions, except by accredited members of the media.