Body Worlds

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Body Worlds (German title: Körperwelten) is a traveling exhibition of preserved human bodies and body parts that are prepared using a technique called plastination to reveal inner anatomical structures. The exhibition's developer and promoter is a German anatomist named Gunther von Hagens, who invented the plastination technique in the late 1970s at the University of Heidelberg.

Body Worlds was first presented in Tokyo in 1995. Body Worlds exhibitions have since been hosted by more than 50 museums and venues in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Body Worlds 2 & The Brain – Our Three Pound Gem (concerning the brain and nervous system) opened in 2005 at the California Science Center in Los Angeles and is currently at the San Diego Natural History Museum.[1]

Body Worlds 3 & The Story of the Heart (concerning the cardiovascular system) opened on February 25, 2006, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It is currently on tour at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Florida.[2]

Body Worlds 4 debuted February 22, 2008 at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester in England and is now in the Cureghem Cellars in Brussels.[3]

Body Worlds & The Mirror of Time (featuring human development and ageing) debuted at The O2 in London in October 2008.[4]

Körperwelten & Der Zyklus Des Lebens opened in Heidelberg in January 2009.[5]

Body Worlds exhibitions have received more than 26 million visitors, making them the world's most popular touring attraction.[6]

The exhibit states that its purpose and mission is the education of laymen about the human body, leading to better health awareness.[7] All the human plastinates are from people who donated their bodies for plastination via a body donation program.

Each Body Worlds exhibition [8] contains approximately 25 full-body plastinates with expanded or selective organs shown in positions that enhance the role of certain systems. More than 200 specimens of real human organs [9] and organ systems are displayed in glass cases, some showing various medical conditions.

Some of the specimens, such as the Tai Chi Man demonstrate interventions, and include prosthetics such as artificial hip joints or heart valves.

Also featured is a liver with cirrhosis and the lungs of a smoker and non-smoker are placed side by side. A prenatal display features fetuses and embryos, some with congenital disorders.

To produce specimens for Body Worlds, von Hagens employs 340 people at five laboratories in four countries. Each laboratory is categorized by specialty, with the China laboratory focusing on animal specimens. One of the most difficult specimens to create was the giraffe that appears in Body Worlds & The Mirror of Time. The specimen took three years to complete – ten times longer than it takes to prepare a human body. Ten people were required to move the giraffe, because its final weight (like all specimens after plastination) was equal to its original.[10]

Several Body Worlds exhibits (as well as von Hagens himself) were featured in the 2006 film Casino Royale. Among the plastinates featured were the Poker Playing Trio (which plays a key role in one scene) and Rearing Horse and Rider.


[edit] Regulatory framework

[edit] UK

[edit] England and Wales

The UK Parliament created specific legislation for Plastination exhibits in England and Wales under the Human Tissue Act 2004. This requires a licence to be granted by the Human Tissue Authority.[11] In March 2008, the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry was granted such a licence to hold Body Worlds 4 and a further licence was granted to the exhibition in the O2, London, in 2008.

The Human Tissue Act superseded the Anatomy Act 1832 which was found by an independent commission (The Redfern Report) [12] to be inadequate on contemporary collection and use of human tissues, following the Alder Hey organs scandal.

Separate legislation exists in Scotland where human remains can be held and exhibited in museums specifically recognised by the Scottish Museums Council:

[edit] Scotland

The Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 – which amended the Anatomy Act 1984 – covers Scotland. Under the terms of this Act, licences for the handling of human remains, including display, must be granted directly by the Scottish Ministry.

"Subsection 9: If the Scottish Ministers think it desirable to do so in the interests of education, training or research, they may grant a licence to a person to publicly display the body or, as the case may be, the part, and a person is authorised under this subsection to so display a body or a part of a body if, at the time of the display he is licensed under this subsection."

Various organizations gave evidence to the Scottish Executive during the consultation process, including the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the Wellcome Trust, and the Museums Association.[13]

[edit] Czech Republic

In July 2008, the Czech Senate passed a law to address illegal trading in human tissue and ban "advertising of donation of human cells and tissues for money or similar advantages".[14]

[edit] USA

Various legislation is proposed in different American states - most proposals concentrate on the issues of sale of human remains, and the consent of the donors.

National legislation on consent and tissue donation issues is expressed in the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (2006)[15] passed by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws which states that "an anatomical gift of a donor’s body or part may be made during the life of the donor for the purpose of transplantation, therapy, research, or education" and prohibits trafficking in donated human organs for profit.

In early 2008 Federal Representative W. Todd Akin proposed an amendment to the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 [16] to "make it unlawful for a person to import plastinated human remains into the United States." The President of the American Association of Anatomists has expressed concern that the scope of the act is "too broad" and that "Preventing importation of all plastinated specimens could severely restrict their use for medical education." [17]

[edit] California

California's proposed bill AB1519 (Ma), sponsored by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma,[18] would "require exhibitors to get a county permit; to do so, they would have to prove to county health officials that the people whose cadavers were on display — or their next of kin — had consented."[19]

Assembly Bill 1519 would make California the first state to prohibit the commercial profit and public display of human bodies or remains, unless exhibitors provide documented informed consent of the deceased or next-of-kin.[20]

[edit] Florida

The state of Florida prohibits the sale or purchase of human remains and "Authorizes certain science centers located in this state to transport plastinated bodies into, within, or out of this state and exhibit such bodies for the purpose of public education without the consent of this state's anatomical board if the science center notifies the board of any such transportation or exhibition, as well as the location and duration of any exhibition, at least 30 days before such transportation or exhibition."[21]

[edit] Hawaii

In January 2009 [22] Rep. Marcus Oshiro introduced two bills prompted by presentaion of the BODIES Exhibition in that state.

HB28 Relating to Dead Human Bodies would add to the prohibition against buying dead human bodies, the selling of dead human bodies and defines the term "dead human body" to include plastinated bodies and body parts. It would increase the fine for buying or selling a dead human body to up to $5,000.

HB29 Relating to Dead Human Bodies. Would prohibit the commercial display of dead human bodies without a permit from the Department of Health. [23]

[edit] New York

In June 2008, New York became the first state to pass legislation regulating body exhibits. A bill that was sponsored by Senator Jim Alesi requires anyone showing an exhibit that uses real human bodies in New York museums to produce a permit detailing their origin.[24]

[edit] Pennsylvania

Representative Mike Fleck's proposed bill would require evidence of informed consent from the decedent or relatives of all humans whose remains are put on display.[25]

[edit] Washington

The state of Washington considered a bill that would "require written authorization to display human remains for a commercial purpose."[26]

[edit] Controversies

Body Worlds exhibitions have controversy and debate focused on various issues. Religious groups, including representatives of the Catholic Church[27] and some Jewish Rabbis[28] have objected to the display of human remains, stating that it is inconsistent with reverence towards the human body.

In 2007 The Bishop of Manchester launched a campaign [29] to coincide with the opening of Body Worlds in that city, accusing the exhibitors of being "body snatchers" and "robbing the NHS", arguing that donation of bodies for plastination would deprive the National Health Service of organs for transplant. The site included a government petition calling for "a review of the law regarding the policies and practices of touring shows involving corpses".

Consent is a primary focus of discussion.[30]Paul Harris, director of North Carolina's State Board of Funeral Services, has stated, "Somebody at some level of government ought to be able to look at a death certificate, a statement from an embalmer, donation documents... That's a reasonable standard to apply."[31] Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) said, "These displays do have important educational benefits, but using bodies against a person's will is unacceptable". [20]

All whole body plastinates exhibited in Body Worlds come from donors who gave informed consent via a unique body donation program. Only adults over eighteen years of age can sign up to the programme.[32] The pre-natal and infant specimens in the exhibitions are obtained from morphological collections previously held by universities and medical institutions.

Bodies from deceased persons who did not give consent – such as deceased hospital patients from Kyrgyzstan[33] and executed prisoners from China – have never been used in a Body Worlds exhibition. In January 2004, the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that von Hagens had acquired corpses of executed prisoners in China; he countered that he did not know the origin of the bodies, and cremated several disputed cadavers. In 2004, von Hagens obtained an injunction against Der Spiegel for making the claims.[34]

A commission set up by the California Science Center in Los Angeles in 2004 confirmed von Hagens' commitment to ethical practices, and published its Summary of Ethical Review.[35] The commission matched death certificates and body donation forms, and verified informed legal consent of the bodies in the exhibitions. However, to ensure the privacy and anonymity promised to body donors, von Hagens' Institute for Plastination maintains a firewall between body donors' documentation and finished plastinated bodies. To date, more than 9,000 individuals have pledged to donate their bodies to the Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg, in Germany.

Body Worlds has been accused of perpetuating 'conservative' gender representations.[36] This article notes that male plastinates were presented in 'heroic' 'manly' roles, including the The Rearing Horse and Rider , The Muscleman and his Skeleton, The Fencer, The Runner, and The Chess Player, while female plastinates were shown in terms of beauty, passivity or reproduction, such as the Reclining Pregnant Woman, a plastinate whose womb is exposed to show her unborn child in "a pose taken straight from pornographic cliche"; and The Swimmer, "suspended, midair, in the graceful position of a swimmer. This figure also had significant quantities of hair on its head". Other female plastinates areThe Figure Skater, The Yoga Lady the Kneeling Lady and The Archer.

International trade experts have objected to the way in which bodies for commercial display are imported, because the way their categorization codes (as "art collections") do not require Centers for Disease Control stamps or death certificates, both of which are required for medical cadavers. [37]. In most countries plastinated human specimens are classified under Customs Classification Code 97050000.48 “items in anatomical collections". This customs code encompasses “zoological, botanical, mineralogical or anatomical collections or items in such collections.” [38]

In an ethical analysis, Thomas Hibbs, professor of ethics and culture at Baylor University, compared cadaver displays to pornography, in that they reduce the subject to "the manipulation of body parts stripped of any larger human significance."[39]

In a 2006 lecture entitled "Plasti-Nation: How America was Won",[40] Lucia Tanassi, professor of medical ethics and anthropology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, explored questions for ethicists regarding this new scientific frontier. Tanassi called it provocative that ethics committees have contributed to the popularization of the exhibits without setting forth any process of a line of inquiry, pointing to an ethics report from the California Science Center. As part of that review, bioethicist Hans Martin Sass was sent to Heidelberg to match donor consents with death certificates.[41]

Concerns have been expressed about the educational aspects, especially the inclusion of these displays for school field trips. St. Louis Diocese Archbishop Raymond Burke strongly suggested that Catholic Schools avoid scheduling field trips, stating that parents, and not children, should retain the freedom of deciding whether or not their children will view the exhibit.[42] Concerned with how "some kids process" these "graphic" images, Des McKay, school superintendent in Abbotsford, British Columbia (a suburb of Vancouver), barred field trips to exhibits of plasticized human beings.[43] In an editorial to the Abbotsford News, Rev. Christoph Reiners questions what affect the exhibits will have on the values of children attending for school field trips.[44] Others - such as the Catholic Schools Office of Phoenix - acknowledge the educational content of Body Worlds.[45]. Reporting on the exhibition at the O2 bubble in 2008/2009, Melanie Reid of the London Times stated "(Body Worlds) should be compulsory viewing for every child of 10 or over" [46]

Von Hagens maintains copyright control over pictures of his exhibits. Visitors are not allowed to take pictures, and press photographers are required to sign agreements permitting only a single publication in a defined context, followed by a return of the copyright to von Hagens. Because of a similar agreement applied to sound bites (O-Töne, in German) a German press organization suggested that the press refrain from reporting about the exhibition in Munich in 2003 .[47]

[edit] Competitors

The success of Body Worlds has given rise to several copycat shows featuring plastinated cadavers, including BODIES... The Exhibition and Our Body: The Universe Within in the United States, Bodies Revealed in England, Body Exploration in Taiwan, Mysteries of the Human Body in South Korea, Jintai Plastomic: Mysteries of the Human Body in Japan, Cuerpos entrañables in Spain.

Some of these contain exhibits very similar to von Hagens' plastinates; von Hagens has asserted copyright protection, and has sued Body Exploration and Bodies Revealed. The suits were based on a presumed copyright of certain positions of the bodies, but the counterparty asserts that the human body in its diversity cannot be copyrighted.

Such lawsuits[48] have not stopped the competition. While the Korean police in Seoul confiscated a few exhibits from Bodies Revealed,[49] the exhibition went on successfully.

Several of the competing exhibitions have been organized by the publicly traded US company Premier Exhibitions Inc.. They started their first Bodies Revealed exhibition in Blackpool, England which ran from August through October 2004. In 2005 and 2006 the company opened their Bodies Revealed and BODIES... The Exhibition exhibitions in Seoul, Tampa, Miami, New York City, and Seattle. Other exhibition sites in 2006 are Mexico City, Atlanta (GA), London, Great Britain and Las Vegas (Nevada).

Unlike BODY WORLDS, none of the copycat exhibitions or their suppliers has a body donation programme. Dr. Roy Glover, a spokesperson for 'Bodies ... The exhibition' stated that the bodies were 'unclaimed' cadavers [50] deposited at the University of Dalian by the Chinese authorities. In May 2008, a settlement with the attorney general of New York obliged Premier Exhibitions to offer refunds to visitors when it could not prove consent for the use of the bodies in its exhibitions. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo commented: "Despite repeated denials, we now know that Premier itself cannot demonstrate the circumstances that led to the death of the individuals. Nor is Premier able to establish that these people consented to their remains being used in this manner."[51]

[edit] Further reading

  • Pushing the Limits [1] - Encounters with Gunther von Hagens. Biography. Ed. Angelina Whalley 2005. In English.
  • Body Worlds - The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies by Gunther von Hagens Amazon-UK ASIN: B000Q2MCDU
  • No Skeletons in the Closet - a response to corpse scandals in Kyrgizstan 13 November 2003[52]
  • Franz Josef Wetz, Brigitte Tag (eds.): "Schöne Neue Körperwelten, Der Streit um die Ausstellung", Klett-Cotta Verlag, Stuttgart 2001. Sixteen authors discuss the various ethical and aesthetical aspects of Body Worlds, in German.
  • Liselotte Hermes da Fonseca: Wachsfigur - Mensch - Plastinat. Über die Mitteilbarkeit von Sehen, Nennen und Wissen, in: Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte (1999), Heft 1.
  • Doms, Misia Sophia: Die Ausstellung „Körperwelten“ und der Umgang mit der endlichen Leiblichkeit. In: Volkskunde in Rheinland Pfalz 17/1 (2002). S. 62-108.
  • Liselotte Hermes da Fonseca und Thomas Kliche (Hg.): Verführerische Leichen – verbotener Verfall. "Körperwelten" als gesellschaftliches Schlüsselereignis, Lengerich u.a.: Pabst Verlag 2006
  • Cambridge University Press: Advise and Consent'.[53]
  • Auf Leben und Tod Beiträge zur Diskussion um die Ausstellung "Körperwelten" Reihe: Schriften aus dem Berliner Medizinhistorischen Museum, Bogusch, Gottfried; Graf, Renate; Schnalke, Thomas 2003, VII, 136 S. 62 Abb., Softcover ISBN 978-3-7985-1424-9
  • Gunther von Hagens' BODY WORLDS: Selling Beautiful Education, Lawrence Burns. The American Journal of Bioethics 2007(4):12 [54]

[edit] External links and sources

[edit] References

  1. ^ San Diego Natural History Museum Official BODY WORLDS site
  2. ^ The official MOSI website
  3. ^ Cureghem Cellars Official BODY WORLDS site
  4. ^ Visit London BODY WORLDS at the O2 official site
  5. ^ Körperwelten & Der Zyklus Des Lebens
  6. ^ Fox news Dead Body Show Promotes Health, Exhibitor Says
  7. ^ Channel M No Smoking Day 12 March 2008
  8. ^ Body Worlds Exhibitions
  9. ^ Plastinated Organs
  10. ^ "Dr. Gunther von Hagens Anatomist and Inventor of Plastination" (in English). Gayot 2008-06-05. Retrieved on 2008-09-30. 
  11. ^ HTA Licensing
  12. ^ Guardian UK, Main findings of the Redfern report
  13. ^ Museums Association: Response by the Museums Association on the Human Tissue (Scotland) Bill
  14. ^ Czech Senate toughens rules for handling of human tissue
  15. ^ Anatomical Gift Act
  16. ^ Amends the Tariff Act of 1930
  17. ^ American Association of Anatomists Newsletter Vo. 17, No. 3, September 2008
  18. ^ California State bill AB1519 (Ma)
  19. ^ Cadaver shows raise consent concerns - Los Angeles Times
  20. ^ a b Legislation to Regulate Dead Body Exhibits Moves on to The Governor
  21. ^ State of Florida Legislation
  22. ^ Enact restrictions on cadavers shown in public exhibits
  23. ^ Hawaii House Blog: Inspired by Bodies
  24. ^ Rochester Homepage Cracking down on human body exhibits
  25. ^ Pennsylvania bodies exhibit regulatory bill
  26. ^ State of Washington Bill Requiring written authorization to display human remains for a commercial purpose
  27. ^ Archdiocese of Vancouver - Body Worlds Exhibit
  28. ^ 'Body Worlds' comes to Phoenix - Jewish News of Greater Phoenix
  29. ^ Bishop of Manchester's campaign Site
  30. ^ Science Direct: Looking Back and Looking Ahead
  31. ^ Body exhibits titillate, but are they legal? — JSCMS
  32. ^ Body Donation Program
  33. ^ Kirghisien No Skeletons in the Closet — Facts, Background and Conclusions: A response to the alleged corpse scandals in Novosibirsk, Russia, and Bishkek, Kyrgizstan
  34. ^ Institut fur Plastination, Statement on Wrongful Allegations and False Reports by Media on the Origin of Bodies in BODY WORLDS Exhibitions, press release
  35. ^ Body Worlds: An Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies Summary of Ethical Review 2004/2005
  36. ^ Megan Stern: Shiny, happy people. 'Body Worlds' and the commodification of health., Radical Philosophy, 118, March/April 2003
  37. ^ Television broadcast: Channel 3SAT, 1/5/2000,“Die Leichenshow” (“The Cadaver Show”)
  38. ^ Warenverzeichnis für die Außenhandelsstatistik (List of goods for statistics on exports), 1998 Edition of the Federal Bureau of Statistics.
  39. ^ The New Atlantis - A Journal of Technology and Society - Dead Body Porn - Thomas S. Hibbs
  40. ^ Public Lectures: Plasti-Nation: How America Was Won Archives
  41. ^ Origins of Exhibited Cadavers Questioned : NPR
  42. ^ MyFox St. Louis | TEXT: No Body World Exhibit For Catholic Field Trips
  43. ^ Abbotsford schools barred from taking ghoulish field trip
  44. ^ dignityinboston - Body worlds objectifies humanity
  45. ^ The Catholic Sun :: Phoenix Diocesan Newspaper
  46. ^ Melanie Reid, London Times: Not gory, not scary, just fascinating
  47. ^ Keine O-Töne über Körperwelten Pressemitteilung, Deutscher Journalisten-Verband, 25 August 2003
  48. ^ - Body Exhibits Attract Suits on Contracts, Copyrights
  49. ^ Korea Times Search
  50. ^ NPR Origins of Exhibited Cadavers Questioned
  51. ^ New York State Attorney General (2008-05-29). Cuomo Settlement With 'Bodies. . . .The Exhibition' Ends The Practice Of Using Human Remains Of Suspect Origins. Press release. Retrieved on 2008-09-17. 
  52. ^
  53. ^ CJO - Abstract - Advise and Consent: On the Americanization of Body Worlds
  54. ^
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