Gunther von Hagens
Gunther von Hagens
Inventor of Plastination, Creator of BODY WORLDS
Genius & Trailblazer
Dr. Gunther von Hagens is a physician, scientist, inventor and a forward thinker who has made the anatomy of the human body accessible to a wide audience in an unprecedented way.
“Gunther von Hagens pushes the envelope – he is an intellectual daredevil and adventurer, the type humankind occasionally needs. Any society, however, would fall apart if all of its citizens were such types. At the same time, a society without any boundary-pushers is just as impossible, they are essential for the development of society. If no one risks failure, nothing new is attempted and there would be no development, only stagnation and decay. Progress is possible only if everything that is common is occasionally challenged. This sometimes requires breaking taboos to allow for creativity.”
Franz Josef Wetz
“The anatomist alone is assigned a specific role-he is forced in his daily work to reject the taboos and convictions that people have about death and the dead. I myself am not controversial, but my exhibitions are, because I am asking viewers to transcend their fundamental beliefs and convictions about our joint and inescapable fate.
I hope for the exhibitions to be places of enlightenment and contemplation, even of philosophical and religious self-recognition, and open to interpretation regardless of the background and philosophy of the viewer.”
Gunther von Hagens
The most important milestones at a glance
January 1, 1945
Born in Alt-Skalden (known today as Skalmierzyce, Poland).
At the age of 20, he began his studies in medicine at the University of Jena in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), East Germany.
In January 1969, he became a political prisoner in the GDR, however he was released when the Federal Republic of Germany, “West Germany” purchased his freedom.
After his liberation he continued his studies in Lübeck, where he passed his final exams in 1973, and, a year later received his license to practice medicine.
Gunther von Hagens accepted a job offer by Heidelberg University, where he obtained his doctoral degree from the Department of Anesthesia and Emergency Medicine.
Lecturer and scientific assistant at the Anatomical Institute of the University of Heidelberg.
He transferred to the Institute of Anatomy and Pathology, and shortly thereafter invented the technique of plastination.
Founding of BIODUR® Products, a company specialized in plastics and plastination equipment.
Registration and granting of patents in different countries. In the 80’s he began the first body donation program for plastination, nowadays more than 18.000 donors are registered.
Completion of the first whole body plastinate.
He founded the private Institute for Plastination, which opened up new dimensions for the further development of his invention.
Creation of the first public BODY WORLDS exhibition together with curator Dr. Angelina Whalley.
Termination of the activity at the University of Heidelberg.
Named visiting professor at the New York University College of Dentistry, USA.
He established the Gubener Plastinate GmbH, a plastination laboratory in Guben, Germany. It is considered the world’s leading plastination research, development and preparation facility.
Dr. von Hagens decided to dedicate an entire exhibition to animals and created the ANIMAL INSIDE OUT exhibition, which was shown in Germany for the first time.
Public announcement of his Parkinson’s disease.
2010 & 2011
Awarded with the Health Media Award for the best science communication.
The Association of Science Technology Centers (ASTC), representing 650 science centers and museums in nearly 50 countries, honored him with a lifetime achievement award for outstanding contribution to the public understanding of science.
Opened a series of BODY WORLDS permanent exhibitions in Berlin, Amsterdam, Heidelberg and London.
To this day, Gunther von Hagens is involved in a large number of projects, in particular the further development and perfection of plastination, special plastics and process engineering.