Home > News, Opinions > Body World’s exhibit an incredible learning tool

Body World’s exhibit an incredible learning tool


I have taught the anatomical sciences for nearly three decades, introducing the intricacies of human and animal form to thousands of young people. In the dissecting lab, I constantly witness awe and appreciation from students who recognize that it is an honour to be allowed such an intimate glimpse of the body’s inner workings. Gunther von Hagens invented the technique of plastination because he was an anatomist looking for a better way to present specimens for students’ appreciation. The fact that the development of this technique, which is used by the faculties of medicine and veterinary medicine at the University of Calgary, has led to popular exhibitions demonstrates the fascination with witnessing the details of the human form presented in a realistic format. Unfortunately, the commercial success of the von Hagens exhibits has spawned imitators who may not be as scrupulous (and certainly not as high quality). I urge the public to move beyond morbid hysteria and culturally driven bias and appreciate what the gracious individuals who donated their remains for this purpose intended — the wonder of the exhibition — as natural as any national park, and no less an adventure.

John Bertram, Calgary

John Bertram is director of the body donation program an the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine.

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