Gunther von Hagens is a brilliant and incredible human. His personal history is just as fascinating as his professional portfolio and contributions to the medical world. He was born in Poland only days before his family set out for Germany in attempt to flee from post-Holocaust disastrous conditions and fast approaching Soviet Communism. The family was held in East Berlin then made to Greiz, where he grew up. During these years, he studied medicine, lectured on Pathology and Anatomy, fought fascism, and was briefly imprisoned for protesting and attempting to cross borders.
In 1975 he received his medical doctorate and within two years, he invented and began practicing his method of preserving live tissue known as Plastination. This has caused controversy almost constantly, but there is no other greater or more effective method of preserving a body. Plastination requires several steps involving formalin embalming, acetone baths to remove fatty tissue, injection of plastic materials, posing and molding subjects, and the curing process which can take up to one year. His work is completed on subjects who will their bodies to him post mortem. Donors must complete applications and follow proper legal channels to finalize the arrangement, and the intent is to be used for research versus art for art’s sake.
Here is a link to the official BodyWorlds website to view his collection.
Hagens’ Menschen Museum holds his BODY WORLDS collection in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz below the Fernsehturm. There is a no flash policy so pardon the quality.
Here is a link to the Menschen Museum (MeMu)’s website for more information on this specific museum in Berlin.