Gunther von Hagens’s Body Worlds has been a long running success, travelling around the world to huge acclaim and crowds.
The exhibition features skinless bodies caught in various moments of human behaviour - taking part in sport, smoking and even having sex. The aim, according to the creator, is to promote 'greater awareness of health and the fragility of the body'.
Now, he’s brought his ‘plastination’ technique to bear on the denizens of the animal kingdom. He hopes to reveal the fragile side of fierce animals like raging bulls and – the exhibitions’ showcase – a full size Asian elephant.
You can see a shark stripped of its skin with its capillary system on show so that it looks bright red and cartoonish. Or, if you prefer, deer in full flight, running from something long dead (perhaps the enormous gorilla).
Von Hagens himself is a figure not without controversy, with some groups calling for his exhibitions to be banned.
However, the beauty of the exhibition is that death loses its sting, becoming more of a legitimate curio than a macabre fascination. And underneath it all, animals have more in common with humans than we might care to admit.
- Plastination is the process of replacing water and fat in a dead body with certain plastics, which means that it retains the look of the body in life and does not decay. It was invented by Von Hagens in the 1977
- More than 34 million people have visited Body Works exhibitions worldwide since the first opened in Tokyo in 1995
- You can purchase a teaching plastinated head (horizontal plane) for 508 Euros
- There are nearly 100 animal exhibits on show at the Natural History Museum’s Animals Inside Out exhibition
- The Asian elephant, at 4 tonnes, is the heaviest exhibit the museum has ever put on show.
- None of the animals were killed for the purposes of the exhibition