With several anatomical exhibits, similarly titled and derivative of Gunther von Hagens’ BODY WORLDS,
that have shown around the world —“Bodies…The Exhibition,” “The Amazing
Human Body,” “Body Exploration,” “Bodies Revealed,” “Mysteries of the
Human Body,” and “Our Body, The Universe Within,” “Our Body,” “Corps
Ouvert,” and others —there has been confusion among the media and the
public about Gunther von Hagens’ BODY WORLDS exhibitions and
their relationship to the copycat exhibits. These exhibitions are
imitations of Dr. Gunther von Hagens’ work, and in no way affiliated
with, sponsored or endorsed by BODY WORLDS.
von Hagens is the world’s leading anatomist, the inventor of
Plastination (the method of specimen preservation that makes anatomical
display possible), and the originator of BODY WORLDS or KOERPERWELTEN
(its German title), the first of its kind anatomical exhibition. Dr.
von Hagens invented Plastination at the University of Heidelberg in
1977, developed the use of plastinated specimens for medical education
and preservation, and established the International Society for
Plastination. More than 400 universities in 40 countries utilize Dr.
Gunther von Hagens’ preservation technique in their curriculum.
exhibitions have appropriated Dr. von Hagens’ Plastination method and
techniques, and frequently imitated the dissection principles and
didactic presentations he uses in BODY WORLDS. In some cases,
they have plagiarized the unique expressive character of many of his
distinctive plastinate specimens. In one case, Dr. von Hagens has
pursued the matter through the courts and sued for copyright
It is also important to note that the plastinated specimens on display in Gunther von Hagens’ BODY WORLDS
exhibitions—excluding a small number of specimens acquired from
anatomical collections and anatomy programs—stem from a unique Body
Donation Program established in Heidelberg, Germany in 1982, later
managed by the Institute for Plastination established in 1993.
the Institute for Plastination has a donor roster of more than 14,000
individuals which includes over 13,000 Europeans and 1,000 North
Americans. All IfP documents relating to donated bodies have been
scrutinized and approved by two ethics committees formed by the
California Science Center in Los Angeles and the Museum of Science and
Industry in Chicago, where BODY WORLDS exhibitions took place in between 2004 and 2008.
California Science Center’s extensive review established an Ethics
Advisory Committee made up of a diverse panel of ethicists and community
leaders. The committee verified that specimens available for each BODY WORLDS exhibit were properly acquired through body donations. A summary of the review is available here: Summary of Ethical Review
With more than 30 years of research and development experience, Dr. Gunther von
Hagens is the world’s preeminent exponent of plastination techniques,
and BODY WORLDS is the industry leader in providing high quality,
educational exhibitions. Since 1995, 40 million people
worldwide have visited Gunther von Hagens’ BODY WORLDS exhibitions. Exhibits, which attempt to mimic BODY WORLDS, simply do not replicate the BODY WORLDS
experience. Many of these exhibits appear to use specimen preservation
and display techniques that differ from the high standards of quality
used in BODY WORLDS.