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Dead good: London’s getting a permanent display of corpses

Dead good: London’s getting a permanent display of corpses
© Gunther von Hagens

'Body Worlds', the globally successful exhibition of human and animal corpses, is going on permanent display in central London. Opening on October 6, the show is housed in the London Pavilion, the Piccadilly Circus venue previously home to Ridley’s Believe it or Not. It will be the biggest event ever staged by the organisation and include plenty of interactive features.

The beautiful/fascinating/unsettling/life-affirming exhibits are made possible by ‘plastination’, a preservation technique developed by Gunther von Hagens, a German doctor known for performing an autopsy live on Channel 4 in 2002. Fun fact: the bodies have eyelashes.

'Body Worlds' stresses that all the human bodies on show are included with strict consent. It also believes in the ability of these displays to educate us on how we should be taking better care of these marvellous machines, instead of shoving them full of vodka and chocolate.

Along with human cadavers, Von Hagens has also overseen the plastination of animals such as a horse, a giraffe and (the biggest item in the 'Body Worlds' collection) an elephant. Other famous works include a 2009 plastinate of a couple having sex, whilst a number of items from 'Body Worlds' featured in the James Bond film 'Casino Royale'.

Previous visitors to 'Body World' shows report finding the whole thing remarkably uplifting, giving them a greater appreciation of their own body. For those who really get into the spirit of things, it’s possible to sign up to donate your own body for plastination. You’d be joining a current cohort of 17,000 donors spread across the globe and, eventually, Von Hagens himself who is planning to one day become part of his own exhibition.

Body Worlds opens Oct 6 at the London Pavillion. To find out more about Body Worlds, click here.

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