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BODY WORLDS is the first exhibition of its kind to inform the visitor about anatomy, physiology, and health by viewing real human bodies. The specimens on display were preserved through Plastination, the preservation process invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens in 1977, while he was working as an anatomist at the University of Heidelberg. Since the beginning of the exhibition series in Japan in 1995, more than 40 million visitors in over 90 cities in America, Europe, Asia and Africa have seen BODY WORLDS, making it the world’s most successful travelling exhibition.

BODY WORLDS Vital is at the Life Science Centre - what does it show?

Although many BODY WORLDS exhibitions have been seen around the world, this is the FIRST TIME that BODY WORLDS Vital has come to the UK. BODY WORLDS Vital is an awe-inspiring journey through the human body, celebrating its complexity, beauty and potential. It brings together a collection of real human bodies, specimens, organs and body slices which have been willed by donors and preserved through Plastination, a ground-breaking method for specimen preservation invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens. This special collection of specimens is designed to show visitors the basics of human health and wellness.

The exhibition includes whole-body plastinates, a large arrangement of individual organs, organ and arterial configurations, and translucent slices that give a complete picture of how the human body works. Vital tells the fascinating story of how best to fight life-threatening diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart ailments, through healthy choices and lifestyle changes.

What is the goal of the exhibition?

BODY WORLDS Vital aims to educate the public about the inner workings of the human body and shows the effects of poor health, good health, and lifestyle choices. Through the specimens on display, visitors will gain profound insights into the structure and function of healthy and unhealthy bodies in a way that is not possible anywhere else on such a comprehensive scale. It’s also a very beautiful and awe-inspiring exhibition. But don’t just take our word for it. Find out what visitors and celebrities said about BODY WORLDS.

Who should see BODY WORLDS?

Anyone interested in learning what makes us human should see it. Adults of all ages and children will find the exhibits fascinating. Given the nature of the BODY WORLDS exhibits, it is up to parents, guardians, or school staff to decide whether it is appropriate for the children in their care. As a guideline, we suggest that BODY WORLDS is of particular interest to children aged 8 and over, and adults of all ages. This is for guidance only - you know your children best. We advise that all children are accompanied by an adult.

Where else has BODY WORLDS been exhibited?

There are numerous BODY WORLDS exhibitions including ANIMAL INSIDE OUT, which have been viewed by more than 40 million people throughout the world. BODY WORLDS exhibitions have been displayed in America, Europe, Asia and Africa. This is the first time that BODY WORLDS Vital has been seen in the UK. Additional BODY WORLDS exhibitions are planned. If you would like to know in what cities the exhibitions will be on display next, please go to the official website,, where you will find an overview of past and future exhibition venues.

Why is it important for the public to see these exhibits?

The organisers of BODY WORLDS believe that when people understand more about how the body works and how it can break down, they are more likely to choose healthy lifestyles. They also hope it will inspire visitors to learn more about the life sciences.

Wouldn't I be able to learn just as much from books or models of the human anatomy?

The use of authentic specimens allows a thorough examination and study of disease, physiology, and anatomy that you cannot find in models, textbooks, or photos. In addition, the exhibition allows visitors to understand that each and every body has its own unique features, even on the inside. The experience in other cities has clearly demonstrated that real specimens fascinate exhibition visitors in a way that models cannot.

What is Plastination?

Plastination is a unique process invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens in 1977 to preserve specimens for medical education. Plastination is a method of extracting bodily fluids and fat from specimens, and replacing them with reactive resins and polymers, enabling visitors to actually see inside the human body, learn how it works, and how it can be affected by disease.

After the bodies are shaped into lifelike poses, they are hardened with gas, heat, or light. The plastinates show how our bodies move in everyday life, as well as during athletic activities.

Are the specimens real human bodies?

Yes, the specimens in BODY WORLDS are real human bodies, preserved though a groundbreaking method of preservation called Plastination. All specimens are secured from the Institute of Plastination’s body donor program.

Are the specimens' eyes real?

Some of the eyes of the plastinates are real, but they look opaque. Many of the whole body specimens have glass eyes in order to make them more relatable. Eyes are difficult to preserve by Plastination. There is still a lot of research done by the Institute for Plastination into maintaining the colour and tissue of certain parts of the body, such as eyes.

Why does the exhibition use real human bodies? Why not use models of other materials?

Real human bodies show the details of disease, physiology and anatomy that cannot be shown with models. They also allow us to understand how each body has its own unique features, even on the inside. Visitors are drawn to real specimens in a way that they are not to plastic models. Real specimens also allow for a unique connection to be made with visitors that experience BODY WORLDS.

Where do the bodies come from?

The specimens in the BODY WORLDS exhibition come from the Institute for Plastination’s body-donor program. Dr. Gunther von Hagens established the body donation program in 1983, shortly after he invented Plastination. The program is now managed by Dr. von Hagens’ Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg, Germany. All donors are adults who gave their consent, during their lifetimes, to use their bodies for Plastination and specifically for the BODY WORLDS exhibits. Independent ethicists have reviewed the Institute for Plastination’s donor program and protocols and verified that the specimens were properly donated for the purpose of public exhibition. Read the ethics review summary.

Will we know who the plastinates are or how they died?

As agreed upon by the body donors, their identities and causes of death are not disclosed. The exhibition focuses on the nature of our bodies, not on telling personal information.

Will I be able to touch any of the plastinates?

While you will be able to get very close to the plastinates, as a rule, visitors are not allowed to touch them.

Will the bodies make me feel squeamish?

Plastinated specimens are dry and odourless and retain their natural structure -in fact; they are identical to their pre-preservation state down to the microscopic level. For an idea of how other people have responded, check our visitor comments.

What do they look like?

The BODY WORLDS plastinates are as life-like as possible through current preservation techniques. The specimens show the intricacies of the human body from within. They look the same as you or I would if our muscles and tissues were visible!

I’ve heard about other body exhibits, why is this one different from the others?

BODY WORLDS is the only public anatomical exhibition associated with a body donation program. Specimens on display were properly acquired through body donations. Additionally because Dr. von Hagens invented Plastination and has since been refining and further perfecting the process, the BODY WORLDS exhibitions are unparalleled in quality and refinement.

Why are the specimens in various poses?

The plastinates are posed to emphasize certain systems of the body. Athletic poses highlight specific muscle groups in the body, and organs may be arranged so that visitors can see their relationships to the rest of the body.

Why aren’t they wearing clothes?

The plastinates are posed without clothing and skin to give the best teaching opportunity for visitors to see the inside of the human body.

Are they life size?

Since the specimens come from human donors, they are fully life size. Everything is to scale.

Is the exhibition suitable for children?

More than 40 million people, including young children, have viewed the BODY WORLDS exhibitions around the world. As a guideline, we suggest that BODY WORLDS Vital is of particular interest to children aged 8 and over, and adults of all ages. This is for guidance only - you know your children best. We advise that all children are accompanied by an adult.

If you are considering bringing children or school groups to BODY WORLDS Vital, please refer to our online guides which have been developed to help you make the most of your visit. Also check the other frequently asked questions in this section. If you need further information, please call (0191) 243 8223 Monday to Friday 9.00am -5.00pm or email

Is there an audio tour?

Audio Guides are offered for an additional fee. The audio tours are designed for the layman. They are available in English and other languages. There are no personally guided tours through the exhibit at this time.

What educational materials is BODY WORLDS providing?

Teachers will wish to prepare their students for their BODY WORLDS experience. Educator materials are available for download on our Body Worlds Resources page. We are also offering preview opportunities for teachers to see the exhibition free of charge before bringing their classes to it. Please contact the Education Team at Life to arrange a preview by calling (0191) 243 8223 or emailing

How long can I stay inside the exhibition?

You can stay as long as you like, within the opening hours. We recommend allowing yourself about one to two hours. The length of time will vary on how long each visitor wishes to examine each specimen and read the information. An audio tour will add to your time in the exhibits.

Can you take photographs or film in the exhibitions?

Photography and filming, including pictures taken with smart phones, are not allowed in the BODY WORLDS Vital exhibition, except by official members of the media (with prior consent.) Media enquiries: contact Nicola McIntosh, Communications Manager at Life by calling (0191) 243 8209 or emailing

Can I use my mobile phone in the exhibition?

No, please switch off your phone before entering.

Can I draw the exhibits?

Yes, but you need to fill in a permission form. Download it here and hand it in at Life Science Centre reception on the day of your visit. If you would like to visit as a group of 10 people or more, you must pre book by calling (0191) 243 8223.

Are food and drinks allowed inside the exhibit?

No, sorry. No food or drinks are allowed inside the exhibition (including gum or water).