Berlin has a new museum, with dead bodies

Wed Feb 18, 2015 9:16am EST
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By Juliana Woitaschek

BERLIN (Reuters) - A permanent museum showing preserved corpses stripped of skin to reveal the complexity of the human body opens in Berlin on Wednesday.

The brainchild of German anatomist Gunther von Hagens and his wife Angelina Whalley, the museum displays cadavres infused with silicon rubber and resin in a process known as "plastination", that was invented by von Hagens himself.

Dubbed "Dr Death", von Hagens has been touring his controversial 'Body Worlds' exhibition around the world since 1995, attracting some 40 million visitors.

Berlin is now home to the first permanent showcase for his work, located in front of Berlin's much-loved television tower at Alexanderplatz.

Covering an area of 1,200 square meters, the exhibit displays 20 flayed bodies, which reveal muscles, organs, veins and bones, set up in lifelike poses, such as sitting, stretching and doing sport.

Whalley said the exhibition gives visitors a new perspective on their body and lifestyles.

"After visiting the exhibition some people said they would never take their bodies for granted any more," she said, adding that a poll conducted around six months after people visited the traveling exhibitions showed 9 percent had given up smoking, 23 percent did more exercise and 30 percent ate more healthily.

However, not everyone in Berlin was enthused by the prospect of the dead bodies taking up full-time residence in the city.   Continued...

A plastinated human body is displayed during a press preview prior to the opening of "Body Worlds" permanent exhibition by German anatomist Gunther von Hagens at the Menschen Museum in Berlin February 17, 2015. REUTERS/Stefanie Loos