Posthumous Poses: Corpses Donated for Art and Science
By Heather Whipps
Special to LiveScience
posted: 24 February 2006
08:12 am ET
TORONTO, CANADA—An exhibition of human corpses is offering a new opportunity for life after death that's as easy as filing a simple form.
Then you have to die, of course.
Body Worlds, a controversial yet wildly popular traveling exhibit of real human bodies and body parts, has been raising eyebrows since it was first displayed in 1996. Nearly 20 million people have since visited one of its three touring editions.
Currently exhibiting in Toronto, Body Worlds 2 will soon come to the United States, with a stop in Denver running March 10 through July 23. Body Worlds 3, promising more dramatic never-before-seen poses, makes its world debut in Houston Feb. 25.
The show highlights plastination, a preservation technique whereby an embalmed body is drained of its natural fluids and injected with a polymer solution. The body is posed and then cured and hardened into position.
Plastination is viewed as a novel and useful alternative to the traditional post-death options like burial and cremation. Proponents see the process as potentially useful to medical students, who some say rely too much on computer models instead of working with real bodies.
Body Worlds is the brainchild of German anatomist Gunther von Hagens, the inventor of plastination who also created a stir in 2002 by performing the first public dissection in 180 years in London. He defended the event by claiming that human anatomy and pathology should be available to the public at large, not just the medical community. The same reasoning is part of the motivation behind the current show.Read the Rest.