BODY WORLDS Brings the Dead to Life

http://www.bodyworlds.com

Ashley Matuszak

Gunther von Hagen’s BODY WORLDS institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany

The hauntingly fascinating BODY WORLDS Exhibit, a display of authentic human bodies is currently at the San Jose Tech Museum for a limited engagement. Creator, physician and anatomist of BODY WORLDS, Gunther von Hagen, created his own process of preservation called plastination, where sustainable material (such as silicone) is penetrated into the cells, preventing decomposition.

An important aspect of BODY WORLDS that is stressed from the beginning is that this is not a “death” exhibit. It is meant to celebrate the human body and all it does for our quality of life.

As seen in the specimens in the exhibit, the human body is intricate and delicate, but also resilient and reliable.

All of the authentic human bodies inside BODY WORLDS gave Gunther von Hagen permission to be featured in this exhibit after death, in order to educate others about what is underneath the surface of the skin.

The bodies seen at BODY WORLDS have no information included at the exhibit. Their identities and causes of death remain unknown to visitors, stressing again that this is not about death and tragedy, but about the human form in all its glory.

The exhibit eases the visitor into the atmosphere, first showing plaster casts of torsos, something that we’ve all seen before. Some of these casts were painted bright, brilliant metallic colors, some including glitter and an iridescent sheen.

What follows is an amazing display of full human bodies, isolated organs, blood vessels, muscles, and body parts.

The full human bodies are all placed in motion-like poses.

There is a fencer, an opera singer, and salsa dancers, all treated and cut in a unique way to showcase certain features.

“The Runner” shows a man in a running pose, his legs in a huge stride. The leg muscles are delicately split, so that every fiber and vein can be seen.

One of the most fascinating displays in BODY WORLDS was the internal organs and muscles, and how they are affected with certain diseases and life choices. Smoker’s lungs are shriveled, black and bruised compared to a person who has never smoked, a person with Alzheimer’s disease’s brain has weathered down tissue and larger holes than a person without a brain disease, and an obese person’s liver is nearly double the size of a person of a healthy weight.

The idea of BODY WORLDS may sound creepy, and almost a bit gory, but it is nothing of the sort.

BODY WORLDS is a marvelous display of the wonder and mystery behind our bodies. BODY WORLDS not only teaches about our anatomy, but also how to better appreciate and care for our bodies, which most of us really put through the wringer from time to time.

BODY WORLDS gives the visitors an amazing gratitude for the vessels of our existence.