Gunther von Hagens’ BODY WORLDS exhibits are the first public anatomical exhibitions of real human plastinates. Since 1995, more than 26 million visitors have viewed the exhibits at venues in cities across Asia, Europe, the United States and Canada. The primary goal of BODY WORLDS is health education. On the one hand, individual specimens are used to compare healthy and diseased organs, i.e., a healthy lung with that of a smoker, to emphasize the importance of a healthy life-style. On the other hand, life-like posed whole-body plastinates illustrate where in our bodies these organs are positioned and what we are: naturally fragile in a mechanized world.

The exhibits help visitors to become aware of the naturalness of their bodies and to recognize the individuality and anatomical beauty inside of them.

The authenticity of the specimens on display is essential for such insight. Every human being is unique. Humans reveal their individuality not only through the visible exterior, but also through the interior of their bodies, as each body is distinctly different from any other. Position, size, shape, and structure of skeleton, muscles, nerves, and organs determine our "interior face." It would be impossible to convey this anatomical individuality with models, for a model is nothing more than an interpretation. All models look alike and are, essentially, simplified versions of the real thing. The authenticity of the specimens, however, is fascinating and enables the observer to experience the marvel of the real human body. 

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 1983, later managed by the Institute for Plastination established in 1993.

Currently, the Institute for Plastination has a donor roster of 9,200 individuals which includes nearly 9000 Europeans and 800 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.  

For more information visit www.bodyworlds.com

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