I had the opportunity to pay Gunther Von Hagen’s ‘Body worlds 2, 3 and 4th’ shows in Lisbon, New York, and Los Angeles, respectively. However, this time around, I went to his latest exhibition in Lisbon named ‘Animal Inside Out’. It features more than 100 plastinates of animals divided into six different categories showcasing the various biological systems; nervous, respiratory, digestive, cardiovascular, locomotive, and reproductive organs of mostly mammals. The plastination technique is based on removing the water and fats within a corpse by substituting it with a plastic material which preserves the organic tissues.
I am very familiar with Gunther Von Hagen’s works, and the controversies surrounding his shows, as I investigated his legal rights to display these plastinates in accordance with German Civil Law in my final thesis of my law degree. The problematic area was whether this fall into “art”, or a “science” sphere, and whether the manner in which the bodies are displayed was contrary to the Articles in the German Constitution. Given the history of Germany; especially after the Holocaust, – any individual, dead or alive has the right to dignity as a human being. A lot of people felt it was inappropriate to showcase a deceased individual playing chess with his brain dissected outside the skull. However, this comes down to a matter of taste! A long story short Dr. Von Hagens was allowed to continue with his worldwide exhibitions in the name, and spirit of educational purposes for the greater good, not art. It was all legal jargon, but an important distinction!
Over the years more than 26 million people have attended his shows, which is a direct testimony of his popularity. Whether you like it, or not, it is highly intriguing. To me, it has been an educational journey into a field which is so far from my line of work. Considering this as a ‘science’ exhibition, ´Animals Inside Out´ is quite impressive, and I did not find it repulsive, nor offending at any point during my visit. I was mesmerized to witness up front how incredible, and complex Mother Nature is, and was wondering as to how she actually engineered the mechanism of all this? The structure and vastness of our Earth, not to mention the Universe – extending to the trillions of micro cells within any single living being. It is unfathomable, and I cannot get my mind around it.
At the time of this writing Dr. Von Hagens has just announced that he will donate his corpse to a future exhibition. Apparently, he is terminally ill and has requested to have his hand outstretched to welcome the audience after his death.
You can read more about his final wish in the article below.
Article on Dr. Death
For more information about the exhibitions please visit
Thanks for reading
Stephen on Webchicken.blog