BODY WORLDS GENEVA: CYCLE OF LIFE
GUNTHER VON HAGENS’ ANATOMICAL EXHIBITION
by Chené Koscielny
The controversial and macabre Body Worlds exhibition of dissected corpses preserved through plastination has made it to Geneva and I urge you: don’t miss it – and take your children!
I managed to see a version of this exhibition, which has fascinated 44 million people around the world, during a recent trip to California – and it made me understand and respect the human body like never before.
I loved the powerful way in which it confronts us with questions about our lifestyle choices and the potential impact on our bodies. Shocking? Sure – but in a good way. Smoking? Not for much longer after you’ve seen the real exhibit of a smoker’s lungs. Equally, a liver with full-blown cirrhosis doesn’t exactly want to make you reach for the wine glass.
As it turns out a few local politicians have been getting their ‘unterhosen’ into a knot about German scientist Gunther von Hagens’ exhibition of preserved corpses and body parts, some even threatening legal action to thwart the expo. The main criticism is disrespect for the dead.
Of course the idea of preserved corpses and body parts is shocking.
However, from a scientific point of view – these bodies have arguably done more to educate millions of people about the human body than libraries full of biology textbooks and countless health campaigns since the exhibition started.
WHAT YOU’LL SEE
Although the version I’ve seen called PULSE has a slightly different focus from the exhibit in Geneva, the principle is the same:
The Geneva exhibition is called CYCLE OF LIFE and depicts our journey from birth to death. Over 200 bodies and organs form part of the exhibition, which shows the complexity, resilience and vulnerability of the human body through anatomical studies of the body in distress, disease and optimal health.
Some examples of displays include a badminton player, a tightrope dancer and a horse rider. Each plastinate is posed to show different anatomical features. For instance, the athletic poses illustrate the use of muscle systems while playing sports.
WHO SHOULD SEE IT?
Everyone in my opinion – but seriously anyone interested in biology, science or their own bodies.
Personally, I think this exhibit is great for children, from about 8 years and older, although official guidelines say suited to children from 12 years and up, unless accompanied by an adult.
WHERE DO THE SPECIMENS ON DISPLAY COME FROM?
The BODY WORLDS exhibitions rely on the generosity of body donors; individuals who requested that upon their death, their bodies could be used for educational purposes in the exhibition. None of their personal details are revealed in the exhibit. Currently there are more than 16,000 donors registered in the body donation program of the Institute for Plastination.
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 fat in specimens with fluid plastics that harden after so-called vacuum-forced impregnation. After the bodies are shaped into lifelike poses, they are hardened with gas, heat, or light. The plastinates show how our bodies move in everyday life, as well as during athletic activities.
WHERE: Palexpo Halle 7
WHEN: 21st September 2017 until 7th January 2018
COST: From CHF16 – CHF25 – including audio guide. Tickets available at TICKETCORNER
OPENING TIMES: Tuesday to Sunday – 10am-7pm (last admissions at 5.30pm)
24th and 31st December from 10am – 4pm (last admissions at 2.30pm)
COPYRIGHT: Gunter von Hagens’ Body Worlds, Institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany.
All rights reserved.