Thursday, 10 September 2009
BodyWorlds and the Mirror of Time
Gunther von Hagens is, there is no doubt about it, a unique character. Suffering bullying due to his haemophilia during childhood he became interested in medicine and anatomy. Perhaps the most defining moment in his life was his imprisonment by the soviet authorities for trying to escape across the Czechoslovakian border ro Austria. Eventually West Germany purchased his freedom and he continued his studies at Lubeck. Since 1977 he has developed the technique of plastination - preserving animal (mainly human) tissue in polymers.
His exhibitions have not been without controversy - particularly in Germany, with some accusations of uing executed Chinese prisoners - however no legal challenge has prevented von Hagens from displaying his exhibitions.
The latest of these, BodyWorlds and the Mirror of Time, has recently closed in London, UK. The exhibition itself was truly excellent, showing the process of aging and how it affects your body from the inside and out. von Hagen's methods might not be to the taste of everybody but I have seen no better way of showing how bodies work to a lay audience. Yes, it would have been nice if it was less crowded, but we did go on the last weekend of the exhibition.
Unfortuantely no photos were permitted inside the exhibition - so I don't have any to show you here!
I work on projects related to technology and taxonomy at the Natural History Museum, and as an advisor for the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. My interests are in entomology (stick insects, cockroaches and insect acoustics) and how technology can change the way research is done in biology and museums. Big fan of open access, open data and open hardware.
Copyright Ed Baker