Home News German doctor opens corpse show in Taiwan

German doctor opens corpse show in Taiwan

Published on 21/04/2004

21 April 2004

TAIPEI – German doctor Gunther von Hagens opens his corpse show in Taiwan on Wednesday, attracting tens of thousands of visitors.

Taiwan’s Education Ministry approved the show after holding a meeting of experts to evaluate the impact of the show on the public. It gave approval but required that children under 12 must be escorted by parents or teachers to see the show.

Education Minister Huang Jung-tsun and von Hagens cut the ribbon for the exhibition at the Taiwan Science Education Center in Shihlin, northwest Taipei. Huang praised the show as a combination of anatomy and art.

Von Hagens admitted there is “lots of discussion” about his corpse show, but his purpose is purely to educate.

“It can educate people in a life-like way about themselves. They can compare healthy and diseased human organs and learn to live a healthy life style,” he said at the opening ceremony, wearing a dark suit and his trade-mark black hat.

Von Hagens, 59, said he, his wife and his father all want to have their bodies preserved with his ‘plastination’ technique after they die so that their lives can continues for generations.

Tens of thousands of people – men and women, old and young – queued up to buy tickets to see the show – called “Body Worlds”: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies. Some high school teachers took their students to see the show.

Taiwan is the ninth country which has allowed Body Worlds to open. Since it first opened in Germany in 1997, 14 million people have watch the show around the world.

Von Hagens has collected 280 human cadavers. He has two sets of exhibits so that he can hold two exhibitions at the same time. Right now a Body Worlds show is going on in Frankfurt, Germany.

The show will go to the United States later this year.

A medical student in the former Czechoslovakia, von Hagens obtained political asylum in 1968 to escape political persecution in his home country.

In 1977, while teaching at Heidelberg University, he invented the plastination technique to preserve human bodies for exhibition.

The process includes embalming body or organs in formaldehyde, replacing body fluids and fat molecules with acetone, which is then replaced with plastic. The specimen is then positioned, hardened under heat, and infused with silicon rubber or resin.

It takes about 1,500 hours and about EUR30,000 to plastinate each body. The only parts which cannot be preserved are the human brain and eyes.

The Taipei show displays 25 cadavers and 200 human organs, as well as corpses of animals.

The organizer, the Taiwan branch of von Hagen’s Korperwelten AG, refused to say how much it has to pay to stage the show in Taiwan for six months.

Von Hagens refused to comment on the copycat human corpse shows that are being held around the world.

On 8 April, a human body show opened in Beijing, organized by von Hagens’ former business manager Sui Hongjin, a Chinese national.


Subject: German news