Questions & Answers
BODY WORLDS: The Original Exhibition, is the first exhibition of its kind to inform the visitor about anatomy, physiology and health by viewing real human bodies 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 54 million visitors in over 150 cities in the Americas, Europe, South Africa, Asia, and Australasia have seen the world's most successful traveling exhibition.
Each BODY WORLDS exhibition contains real human specimens, including whole-body plastinates as well as individual organs, organ configurations and translucent 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.
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.
The unique body donation program was founded in 1982 by Dr. Gunther von Hagens and has registered more than 19,000 donors worldwide. Since 1993, the program has been managed by the Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg, Germany. Body donation is and remains the ethical cornerstone of Plastination for BODY WORLDS. BODY WORLDS exhibitions and the high-quality educational specimens that result from our Plastination work would not be possible without the generosity of our body donors. We are very grateful to all of our donors and we are honored to be able to fulfill their last wish. In order for us to properly manage our donation program and serve our existing donors, we are unable to accept new donations at this time. The program has simply reached its capacity and we are indefinitely stopping the acceptance of new donor applications.
We encourage you to contact your local medical school to learn about their need for body donations. Please contact our body donation office if you have any further questions.
Professional and commercial photography and filming in the exhibitions is not allowed. Some venues may permit amateur photography with small handheld devices. Please note that photography that may be distracting to other guests may be limited or restricted at any time. Members of the media wishing to photograph or film in the exhibition should contact the local PR office.
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 in our press section.
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), 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).
The exhibitions show a multitude of brand new plastinates and offer every visitor – even the ardent BODY WORLDS visitor – a fascinating exhibition experience.
Within the opening hours you can stay as long as you like. 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.
In some exhibitions audio guides are offered for an additional fee. The audio tour is designed for the layman to enhance the exhibition content and to provided added insight to the specimens on display. Clear explanations, amazing facts and more information about the plastinates can be accessed by individual users at their own pace. The guides are usually available in English or other languages in select markets. More information are available on the exhibition website and on site in the exhibition.
Teachers will wish to prepare both their students and their adult supervisors carefully for their exhibition experience. Educator materials are available for download on the Teacher & Parents site. Please inquire about educator preview opportunities.
Invented by scientist and anatomist Dr. Gunther von Hagens in 1977, Plastination is the groundbreaking method of halting decomposition to preserve anatomical specimens for scientific and medical education. The process involves extracting all bodily fluids and soluble fat from specimens, replacing them through vacuum-forced impregnation with reactive resins and elastomers, and then curing them with light, heat or certain gases, which give the specimens rigidity and permanence.
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; a few organs 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 providing personal information.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Dogs or other pets are not permitted in the exhibition, except assistance dogs and guide dogs for the blind. The exhibition welcomes guide dogs fitted with a suitable harness. We ask to register guide dogs prior to your visit.