Portland’s Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s new feature exhibit is Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds & The Brain. According to the OMSI and Body Worlds websites, Body Worlds includes more than 200 flayed human corpses in a variety of poses.
You’ll notice there are no hyperlinks in this post. You can find the relevant sites if you want to. But I’m not giving them to you because they all have photos of the bodies, and I don’t want to be complicit in disseminating them.
Real people donated their bodies to von Hagens’ Institute for Plastination, headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany. There technicians peeled off their skin and “plastinated” them–replaced the fluids with a clear, pliable polymer that preserves the bodies in a flexible state. They then posed the bodies in life-like, active poses–riding a bicycle, working out in the gym, ice-skating. The dead body of a woman five-months pregnant reclines, all her skin and hair removed (with, oddly, the exception of her pubic hair) and her uterus peeled open to expose the dead baby inside her.
When von Hagens first began displaying his skinned corpses in Germany nearly ten years ago, he met stiff resistance. Many cities refused permission for showing on the grounds that the exhibition was immoral and a desecration of the human body. Only Frankfurt allowed an exhibition, and reviewers there called it crass, pornographic and borderline psychotic. So, in 2004, von Hagens brought Body Worlds to the United States.