On May 20th this year, Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds Pulse Exhibit opened in LA’s California Science Center to be shown for nine months. First hosted in Tokyo in 1995, this world traveling anatomy exhibit has made its way to over 50 locations around the world to educate the public about the human body.
The exhibit presents real human bodies portraying the effects of health and sickness, as each cadaver is positioned to place an emphasis on a specific organ system. The showcase was separated into different rooms specific to a body system, focusing on its functions, mechanics, and effects from external factors. Bodies are preserved through the process of plastination, developed by Gunther von Hagen himself.
This exhibit gives a new viewpoint of the human body that is visually stunning and provides a setting that allows one to submerge oneself into the subject.
“The bodies exhibit was amazing,” said Sally Oh, a 4th year human biology and society major at UCLA. “As someone who is interested in entering the medical profession, being able to see the human body in such a different light was an incredibly valuable experience. I was able to see from the largest groups of muscles to the tiniest bones in the inner ear.
On the other hand, there have been many ethical concerns over the years about the display of human bodies and how von Hagen obtained the bodies used for the exhibits. According to an article from National Public Radio, von Hagen was provided with unclaimed bodies to plastinate and then sell to universities. It was also reported that he had at one point took part in body-trafficking in the Soviet Union. However, it was confirmed that he obtained bodies ethically from donors for this latest exhibition.
The public may enjoy this instructional exhibit, for it gives valuable facts about the human body such as how our behavior and habits affect this delicate, mechanical structure. “This exhibit is great because it makes information about the human body and its physiology accessible to everyone,” said Sally. “I saw toddlers, teens, adults, the elderly—and everyone was so engaged because of the way the bodies captured living motion in their poses, sometimes in a humorous way.”
The exhibit is open until February 20th, 2018.