The BODY WORLDS exhibit

In 2006, The Science Museum of Minnesota hosted the world-renowned exhibit, Gunther von Hagens' BODY WORLDS, to offer visitors an unprecedented opportunity to learn about anatomy, physiology, and health by viewing real human bodies that have been preserved through a remarkable process called plastination, invented by the anatomist Dr. von Hagens in 1977.

BODY WORLDS has been shown in accredited museums across North America:

  • California Science Center, Los Angeles, CA (BODY WORLDS and BODY WORLDS 2)
  • Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL (BODY WORLDS)
  • Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA (BODY WORLDS)
  • Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland, OH (BODY WORLDS 2)
  • Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, CANADA (BODY WORLDS 2)
  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver, CO (BODY WORLDS 2)
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston, TX (BODY WORLDS 3)

More than 200 real human specimens whole body plastinates, individual organs, transparent body slices and healthy and diseased organs present a one-of-a-kind anatomy and physiology lesson through BODY WORLDS, an intimate look at the human body.

Plastination technology allows authentic specimens to be displayed in a lifelike fashion for instruction and education, giving you an opportunity to appreciate what it really means to be human.

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 of the full body plastinates and the majority of the specimens are from these body donors; some specific specimens that show unusual conditions come from anatomical collections. The donor's identities, ages, and causes of death are not provided as the exhibition focuses on the nature of our bodies, not on providing personal information.

The Science Museum of Minnesota considered this exhibit since it first entered the US market and we heard about the overwhelmingly positive response it received. We found it to be powerfully educational and intriguing. The Science Museum assembled an advisory committee composed of leaders in the fields of anatomy, medicine, ethics, education and religion to help provide advice on how to best relate the exhibit to the public.

We also carefully reviewed the valuable advance research done by our colleagues at the California Science Center, the first North American venue to host this exhibit. They conducted an extensive ethics review of the exhibit and the donor consent forms, and confirmed that the donors understood how their bodies would be prepared and displayed. Additionally, Science Museum attorneys conducted an independent review of the body donors consent forms. We feel very comfortable and confident that the body donors in BODY WORLDS were well informed and gave full consent to have their bodies prepared in this way and put on public display for educational purposes.