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Alexander Laws


Gunther von Hagens’ BODY WORLDS: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies, is a first-of-its-kind exhibit in which guests learn about anatomy, physiology and health by viewing real human bodies, preserved through an extraordinary method called “plastination.”

The exhibition features more than 200 authentic human specimens, including entire bodies as well as individual organs and transparent body slices. Using the revolutionary process of plastination, the body specimens are preserved with special plastics that enable us to view the many organs and systems under our skin. The exhibit also allows for guests to understand diseases, the effects of tobacco consumption and use of artificial supports such as knees and hips.

To date, nearly 16 million people globally have viewed the exhibit.

What is the purpose of the exhibit?

BODY WORLDS aims to educate the public about the inner workings of the human body and to show the effects of poor health, good health and lifestyle choices. It is also presented in the hopes that it will stimulate curiosity about the science of anatomy and physiology.

Why is this exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry?

The Museum’s mission is to inspire the inventive genius in everyone by presenting captivating and compelling experiences that are real and educational. To do this, we must be fun, inclusive, provocative and spectacular. BODY WORLDS fulfills this mission. As a world-class science institution, the Museum has traditionally offered exhibits related to the human body beginning with the Prenatal exhibit since 1939, the Anatomical Slices since the 1940s and the addition of Genetics in 2002.

Why would the public want to see this exhibit?

Prior to BODY WORLDS, this type of real anatomical detail could only be experienced by members of the medical community. BODY WORLDS inspires the general public to learn more about how the human body functions and how lifestyle choices affect the body.

Couldn’t I learn just as much from books or models of the human anatomy?

The unique use of authentic specimens shows the details of disease, physiology and anatomy in a way that cannot be shown with models, textbooks or photos. In addition, the exhibit allows guests to understand that each and every body has its own unique features, even on the inside. We have also learned with our Anatomical Sections and Prenatal Development exhibits that guests are drawn to real specimens in a way that they are not to plastic models.

What review process did the Museum go through when considering BODY WORLDS?

The Museum of Science and Industry considered this exhibit for several years prior to hosting it. We found it to be both educational and intriguing. We received positive feedback from our guests when we surveyed their opinions about content of the exhibit. The Museum also assembled a Program and Outreach committee, composed of leaders in the fields of education, medicine, ethics and religion, to help explore and provide advice on how to best relate the exhibit to the public. The Museum values the research and efforts put forth by the California Science Center, where the exhibit was hosted from July 2004 through January 2005. The exhibit has been well-received in California and has drawn more than 650,000 visitors, and nearly 16 million worldwide.

What is plastination?

Invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens, the plastination process replaces the natural fluids in the body with reactive plastics that are initially pliable, but then harden after infusion. By hardening the plastic in the specimens, the bodies may be fixed into life-like poses, which illustrates how our bodies respond internally to everyday activities.

Is the Museum advocating or supporting body donation or plastination?

The Museum of Science and Industry leaves the decision about body donation or plastination entirely up to visitors of the exhibit.

How many plastinates are in the exhibition?

The exhibition features more than 200 authentic human specimens, including 25 whole bodies as well as individual organs and transparent body slices

Where did the specimens on display come from? Will we know who the plastinates are or how they died?

The specimens in this exhibit are from body donors— individuals who bequeathed that upon their death, their bodies could be used in this exhibition. As agreed upon by the body donors, their identities, ages and causes of death are not provided. The exhibit focuses on the nature of our bodies, not on disclosing personal information.

Why are the plastinates posed the way they are?

The poses of the plastinates have been carefully considered to illustrate different anatomical and physiological features. The poses also help visitors relate the plastinate to their own bodies. For example, the “Chess Player” is posed to illustrate the body’s neurological system. The athletic poses illustrate how muscle systems function while playing sports.

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, guests are not allowed touch them. At a certain area in the exhibit, however, visitors have the option of touching a select group of plastinated organs to better understand both the human anatomy and the process of plastination.

Is this exhibit appropriate for children?

Nearly 16 million people have viewed BODY WORLDS, including children. Due to the sensitive nature of this exhibit, the Museum requires that children under 13 must be accompanied by a responsible adult, parent, guardian or school chaperone. There may be displays in the exhibit that adults will wish to explain to children in their care, and the Museum will provide information offering helpful tips for visiting the exhibit with children.

What are the Museum’s hours for the exhibit?

See our hours/prices page for more information.

How much does it cost to see BODY WORLDS?

See our hours/prices page for more information.

Why isn’t the exhibit included in the Museum’s general admission price?

As a non-profit organization and in order to ensure that the Museum is able to bring world-class exhibits to share with its guests, the Museum must sometimes charge an additional fee.

Is the exhibition accessible to people with disabilities?

The exhibit is fully accessible by wheelchair. For further information about borrowing a wheelchair, please contact the Museum’s information line: (773) 684-1414. The exhibit provides written descriptions for all of the plastinates and specimens. An audio tour in English and Spanish is also available for an additional fee.

Can I take photographs or film in the exhibit?

Photography and filming are not allowed in BODY WORLDS, except by credentialed members of the media. We thank you for your understanding and apologize for any inconvenience.

Where will the exhibit go after it leaves Chicago?

Once scheduled, additional tour locations and dates will be posted on

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