|By KEVIN PASSON - Special to TimeOut||
February 13, 2014
Six years after shattering the Milwaukee Public Museum’s
special exhibition attendance record, a second “BODY WORLDS”
exhibition has returned to offer another unique look at the
200 plastinates - individual organs and systems as well as
full-body specimens preserved through Dr. Gunther von Hagens’
invention, the process called Plastination - reveal the human
body in all its stages: across youth, growth, maturity and
advanced age, and in all its conditions, from health to distress
WORLDS and The Cycle of Life’ is the story of aging as a
natural occurrence,” said Dr. Angelina Whalley, director of
the Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg, Germany, and the
creative and conceptual designer of the BODY WORLDS exhibitions.
“Many people will be very deep in thought at the exhibition.
They will stand in front of the specimens and see themselves,
see how they are made. Many times I have heard people say,
‘Never again will I take my body for granted.’”
the exhibitions lead attendees to take a more proactive role in
their lifestyle, knowing that 30 percent of their condition is
determined by age, but 70 percent is determined by their own
choices. She said many leave vowing to eat healthier, and 25
percent will exercise more and 9 percent will quit smoking.
back again (in Milwaukee), because we have developed new
specimens, and this theme adds a new dimension,” Whalley said.
“Also, you have changed. Maybe you have had a baby, been
affected by disease, and you certainly have aged.”
genesis of Plastination
1977, while working as a scientist and research assistant at the
University of Heidelberg’s Institute of Pathology and Anatomy,
von Hagens had an idea.
looking at collections of specimens embedded in plastic,” he
said in a news release. “It was the most advanced preservation
technique then, where the specimens rested deep inside a
transparent plastic block. I wondered why the plastic was poured
and then cured around the specimens, rather than pushed into the
cells, which would stabilize the specimen from within and
literally allow you to grasp it.”
was an epiphany for von Hagens and the genesis of Plastination,
his groundbreaking invention where all body fluids and soluble
fat from anatomical specimens are extracted to stop
decomposition, and replaced through vacuum-forced impregnation
with reactive resins and elastomers, such as silicon rubber and
epoxy that harden with gas, light or heat curing, giving the
specimens rigidity and permanence.
with her medical degree from the University of Heidelberg in
hand a surgical career ahead of her, Whalley signed up for an
intensive course in dissection. The course was taught by von
Hagens. They forged a professional and personal bond, and the
couple married in 1992.
to further our mission of health education, by ennobling the
post-mortal body and without sacrificing aesthetics,” Whalley
said of her work with the BODY WORLDS exhibitions. “I try to
present the body in a dramatic, memorable, beautiful way so that
people can learn about anatomy, disease and health.
been able to education far more people about health than I ever
would have if I had been a surgeon.”
BODY WORLDS exhibition was held in 1995 in Japan. Since then,
more than 40 million people worldwide, including 14 million in
the United States, have viewed the exhibitions. There are
currently nine exhibitions on display across North America,
Europe, Africa and Asia.
exhibition fits perfectly with the mission of the museum,”
said Ellen Censky, the MPM’s senior vice president and
academic dean. “It’s all about inspiring curiosity. And as
for learning, it hits it on the mark. It’s unique and so
popular because we all have a body, and we can relate to the
WORLDS 1: The Original Exhibition of Real Human Bodies” was
featured at the museum in 2008, when more than 340,000 people
I’m out in the community, this is the one exhibition everyone
always asked about (whether) we were ever going to bring it
back, so the demand is obviously there,” she said. “Also,
many people simply missed it the first time, thinking they
always would come another day, but then time ran out.”
of the exhibition include:
A look at
conception and prenatal development. This area features a
multimedia display on cell division and a collection of
plastinated embryos and features acquired from historical
Artists’ Gaze, an exploration of the sight and visions of
artists Claude Monet and Edgar Degas, who suffered from
cataracts and retinal eye disease.
Village, a feature on the findings on geographic clusters around
the world where the longest-living people live, from Okinawa,
Japan, and Ovodda in Sardinia to the Hunza region in Pakistan.
exhibition will be at the museum until the middle of June.