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What is BODY WORLDS?
The exhibition BODY WORLDS, internationally known as BODY WORLDS: The Original Exhibition of Real Human Bodies, 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. Gunther 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 1995, more than 40 million visitors in more than 100 cities in America, Europe, Asia and Africa have seen the world’s most successful traveling exhibition.
What does BODY WORLDS show?
Each BODY WORLDS exhibition contains real human specimens, including whole-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 wide-ranging 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.
The BODY WORLDS series - How do the various exhibitions that are being shown differ from each other?
all of the BODY WROLDS 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), and the story of the human body in the 21st century (BODY WORLDS: Pulse), the influence that ‘happiness’ has on our health (BODY WORLDS: The Happiness Project) and the prescription for a healthy life (BODY WORLDS RX).
exhibitions show a multitude of brand new plastinates and offer every
visitor—even the ardent BODY WORLDS visitor—a fascinating exhibition
BODY WORLDS & The Story of the Heart,
reveals—through the lenses of anatomy, cardiology, psychology, and culture—how the heart nourishes, regulates, and maintains life. The heart is the steady engine of our life. Due to this continuous strain, it is also vulnerable to wear and tear and to dysfunctions. Diseases of the cardiovascular system are the leading cause of death today. The exhibition also highlights other aspects 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 a deep insight into the human body, health and disease, and the complicated world of the cardiovascular system.
BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life
features a special presentation on the human life cycle and aging—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 healthy, and as it changes, grows, matures, peaks, and finally fades. 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 see the body living through the span of time from the spark of conception to old age, and learn about the latest findings in longevity and aging 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. The exhibit inspires visitors to assert themselves and to claim responsibility for their own health and well-being.
BODY WORLDS: PULSE is
the newest in the renowned BODY WORLDS series. “Pulse” shows the
science and splendor of the human body, and deconstructs its form and
function through the trailblazing science of Plastination invented by
anatomist, Dr. Gunther von Hagens. 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
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. Visitors learn for example that people who are happy, live longer than people who are unhappy.
BODY WORLDS RX exhibition focuses on the most prevalent contemporary diseases, that afflict children and adults alike, their causes and effects. BODY WORLDS RX is an informative and entertaining presentation of the latest research on top health issues and shall inspire visitors to embrace preventive healthcare. From organs, to muscles, to the nervous system, and to skeletal structures, visitors will have an unprecedented look inside the intricate systems of the most sophisticated mechanism in the world, the human body.
All BODY WORLDS
exhibitions generally present different plastinates, which is most
evident in the whole-body plastinates which each vary in pose and
Are there animals in the BODY WORLDS exhibitions, as well?
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 the goal of the exhibition?
WORLDS aims to educate the public about the inner workings of the human
body and shows the effects of poor health, good health, and lifestyle
choices. It is also presented in the hopes that it will motivate
visitors to learn more about the science of anatomy and physiology.
Who should see BODY WORLDS?
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
Where else has BODY WORLDS been exhibited? Where will they be on display next?
There are more than ten BODY WORLDS exhibitions including ANIMAL INSIDE OUT, which have been viewed by more than 40 million people throughout the world. BODY WORLDS exhibitions have been displayed in America, Europe, Asia and Africa. 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 future exhibition venues. If you are interested in additional information about BODY WORLDS, current exhibitions and more, you may join our Facebook community.
Why is it important for the
public to see these exhibits?
The organizers 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 lifestyles.
They 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
Would I be able to learn just as much from books or models of the human anatomy?
The use of authentic specimens allows a thorough examination and study of disease, physiology, and anatomy that you cannot find in 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 real specimens fascinate exhibit visitors in a way that models cannot.
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 fat in specimens with fluid plastics that harden after so-called vacuum-forced impregnation. After the bodies are shaped into lifelike poses, they are hardened with gas, heat, or light. The plastinates show how our bodies move in everyday life, as well as during athletic activities. For more information go to Plastination.
Where did the specimens on display come from? Will we know who the plastinates are or how they died?
The BODY WORLDS exhibitions rely on the generosity of body donors; individuals who requested 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 institutes. As 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 telling personal information. Currently there are more than 16,000 donors registered in the body donation program of the Institute for Plastination. For more information please visit the body donation section. 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 show 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 compare the plastinate to
his or her own body.
Will I be able to touch any of the plastinates?
While you will be able to get very close to the plastinates, as a rule, visitors are not allowed to touch them.
Is this exhibition appropriate for
More than 40 million people, including young children, have viewed the BODY WORLDS exhibitions around the world. If you are 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.
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 English and other languages. There are no
personally guided tours through the exhibit, at this time.
Have the ethical questions about this exhibition been discussed?
Before the North American premiere of BODY WORLDS, a wide committee of theologians, ethicists, academics, and medical experts thoroughly discussed the ethical questions. Guided by the California Science Center in Los Angeles, they wrote an Ethics Review of the origins of bodies in BODY WORLDS. It can be downloaded from our website: Ethics Review (pdf).
What educational materials is
BODY WORLDS providing?
Teachers will wish to prepare both their students and their adult supervisors carefully for their BODY WORLDS experience. Educator materials are available upon request and for download here: Resource Materials for Educators & Parents. BODY WORLDS offers preview opportunities so that teachers can see the exhibition free of charge before bringing their classes to it.
How long can I 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. An audio tour will add to your time in the exhibits. Reentry to the exhibition is not allowed, once you exit.
Can you take photographs or film in the exhibitions?
Professional photography and filming in the exhibition is limited to registered members of the media, for editorial purposes only. Some locations allow photography with small handheld devices for personal, non-commercial use. Please check with the location you are visiting to confirm that photography is allowed. Out of respect to other visitors and the body donors, photography may be restricted at anytime.