I Want Your Body
After long controversy, he did it at last. Dr. Gunther von Hagens finally opened his controversial Menschen Museum, displaying plastinated human bodies propped in plastic poses, and Solveig Steinhardt went to check it out.
When he first decided to open his cadaver museum in Berlin, anatomist Gunther von Hagens encountered resistance from the German courts, according to which dead human bodies must be buried – not exhibited in a museum. It took him a couple of court appeals, but his first Menschen Museum was finally inaugurated in Berlin in February. Von Hagens invented the plastination technique in 1977, and has been immortalizing bodies and body parts ever since. His exhibitions, each following a specific theme – from The Cycle Of Life to The Story Of The Heart or The Happiness Project, have traveled the world earning acclaim in every city. For the faint at heart who can’t take the sight of a dead fellow human, however, von Hagens also created an animal body show, Animal Inside Out, which has been on tour since 2010, featuring a 3.5-meter-tall adult elephant. The permanent exhibition at the Berlin museum, called The Facets Of Life, shows 200 body parts and 20 whole-body preparations, each exhibit focusing on certain organs or on a specific disease in order to open our eyes to the different (biological) aspects of our lives. The exhibition is curated with an educational approach to keep morbidity at bay and to simply show the public the inner beauty of our anatomical functions. But where does von Hagens get his bodies, you may ask? Believe it or not, there are a lot of people out there who wish to be seen and remembered after death, and the anatomist has begun a campaign to get more and more people to donate their bodies to science – his science, at least. To this day, 15,049 people from all over the world people have signed “body donor agreements” to guarantee a worldly life to their body after their soul has flown elsewhere. A few of these donors were present at the museum opening ceremony. Who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll meet these people again, plastinated and behind glass. Panoramaplatz 1 (Alexanderplatz). www.memu.berlin
“The exhibits open our eyes to the different biological
aspects of our lives.“