Frequently Asked Questions




  • What is BODY WORLDS?
    • BODY WORLDS 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. Since the beginning of the exhibition series in Japan in 1995, more than 40 million visitors in more than 100 cities in Asia, Europe, America 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 translucent body slices. The spectacular plastinates in the exhibition take the visitor on an exciting journey of discovery under the skin, providing 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.



  • Is this the same exhibition that was at Union Station Kansas City before?
    • No, this is an entirely different exhibition, developed and produced by the leading international teaching institute of its kind. This exhibition showcases the wonders of human development and the complexity, resiliency and vulnerability of the human body in distress, disease and optimal health. By viewing the body in different stages of health and at different points in the lifecycle, visitors will gain a new appreciation of the power we have to keep our bodies healthy throughout our life span.



  • What is the purpose of the exhibition?
    • BODY 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 hope that it will stimulate curiosity about the science of anatomy and physiology.



  • Who should see BODY WORLDS?
    • Anyone interested in learning what makes us human. Adults of all ages and children will find the exhibits fascinating. Given the nature of BODY WORLDS, it is up to parents, guardians or school staff to decide whether BODY WORLDS is appropriate for the children in their care.



  • Where else has BODY WORLDS been exhibited? Where will they be on display next?
    • There are nine BODY WORLDS exhibitions, plus two exhibitions focused on animals which have been viewed by more than 42 million people throughout the world. BODY WORLDS exhibitions have been displayed in Asia, Europe, North America and most recently Africa. For more information about other cities, please visit www.bodyworlds.com.



  • Why is it important for the public to see these exhibitions?
    • 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.



  • Would I be able to learn just as much from books or models of the human anatomy?
    • The use of authentic specimens allows an in-depth 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 demonstrated that visitors are drawn to real specimens in a way that cannot be replicated by models.



  • 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 soluble fat in specimens with fluid plastics that harden after vacuum-forced impregnation. After the bodies are fixed into lifelike poses, they are hardened with gas, heat or light. The plastinates show how our bodies respond internally to movements in everyday life, as well as during athletic activities. For more information about Plastination, click here.



  • 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 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.



  • 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 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.



  • 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 children?
    • Forty 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, click here to find out how to use the exhibition as a learning experience.



  • Have the ethical questions concerning this exhibition been addressed?
    • 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 here.



  • Body donation for Plastination?
    • The unique body donation program was founded in 1982 by Dr. Gunther von Hagens and has registered more than 15,500 donors worldwide. Since 1993, the program has been managed by the Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg, Germany. Body donation is and remains the cornerstone of BODY WORLDS. The exhibitions and the high-quality educational specimens that result from the Plastination work would not be possible without the generosity of the body donors. We are very grateful to all of our donors.

      The North American body donation program is not able to accept new donations at this time. The program has simply reached its capacity and has indefinitely stopped the acceptance of new donor applications. Please contact the BODY WORLDS body donation office if you have any further questions.



  • What educational materials are provided?
    • Teachers will wish to prepare both their students and their adult supervisors carefully for their BODY WORLDS experience. Educator materials are available for download here.



  • Does the exhibition show genitals/private parts?
    • The human body is displayed in its entirety. With a goal of educating visitors about health, the plastinates provide a comprehensive insight into the anatomy and physiology of the human body. In addition, there are displays of individual organs and each of the systems of the body, including the urogenital system.



  • How long can you stay inside the exhibits?
    • 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. Reentry to the exhibition is not allowed, once you exit.



  • Can you take photographs or film in the exhibitions?
    • Pictures taken with small devices, such as cell phones, are generally permitted. Commercial reproductions of images is not permitted. For the privacy of guests and out of respect to the donors to the Institute of Plastination, photography that becomes distracting or that causes disruption will be restricted at our discretion. Use of tripods, lighting, flash and other bulky equipment is prohibited.



  • What is the origin of plastinated bodies presented in The Cycle of Life?
    • All whole-body, plastinated specimens on display in Gunther von Hagens’ BODY WORLDS exhibitions stem from a unique body donation program established in Heidelberg, Germany in 1982, later managed by the Institute for Plastination (IFP) established in 1993. Today, the IFP administers a donor roster of more than 15,000 individuals, who have willed their bodies to the Institute for public medical education. Nearly 1,700 of them are already deceased. The donor roster includes more than 1,400 North Americans. For more information please visit www.bodyworlds.com



  • What is the origin of the plastinated fetuses presented in The Cycle of Life?
    • A small number of specimens in the BODY WORLDS exhibitions, such as fetuses, were acquired from established morphological institutes such as anatomy and pathology programs, and historical anatomical collections that are more than 70 years old.

      Visitor to The Cycle of Life will have an option to bypass the specific gallery that presents plastinated fetal development specimens.



  • Is the body donation program at The Institute for Plastination audited for document authenticity?
    • The Institute for Plastination body donation program and all documents relating to it are reviewed annually by the City of Heidelberg in Germany. A local notary regularly confirms the authenticity of the documents, such as death certificates and consent forms.

      All documents have been scrutinized and approved by numerous institutions around the world. Some organizations have sent legal advisors to Heidelberg to review and confirm the legitimacy of the program. Among them were 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 2005. More information on the specifics of the program and the program’s body donation brochure are available at www.bodyworlds.com.



  • Is BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life the same exhibit that was at Union Station in 2008?
    • Gunther von Hagens’ BODY WORLDS are the original, first of their kind, anatomical exhibitions created in 1995 by the inventor of Plastination, Dr. Gunther von Hagens. Dr. von Hagens is only affiliated with exhibitions that bear the name, BODY WORLDS. With several anatomical exhibits, similarly titled and derivative of BODY WORLDS, there has been confusion among the media and the public.

      BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life is appearing in Kansas City for the first time, from May 21 thru October 23, 2016 and only at Union Station. This exhibition IS NOT the same that appeared in Kansas City in 2008. This Cycle of Life exhibition is focused on human health from embryonic development thru old age and highlights changes our bodies experience at every life stage. This exhibition is intended to educate visitors about themselves and the power we each have to prolong optimal health and care for our physical being.

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