Producer of perhaps some of the most talked-about travelling shows in the world, The Institute for Plastination has been continuing its mission to use exhibitions as an educational format for the last two decades.
Founded in Heidelberg in 1993 by Dr. Gunther von Hagens – the scientist and inventor of plastination – the Institute for Plastination (IfP) was set up with the aim of producing and making available human specimens for medical training, as well as for the education of the public.
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Since its foundation the IfP has overseen a range of Body Worlds travelling exhibitions, causing both controversy and fascination around the globe. The first of these exhibitions took place in 1995, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Japanese Anatomical Society; followed by a public exhibition in Mannheim in 1996. Even now, these two exhibitions remain the most-visited Body Worlds exhibitions worldwide. Since the first exhibition, the IfP has created exhibitions exploring various aspects of the human body, focusing on areas including the heart and aging, and even the effect of happiness on the body.
The exhibitions are targeted mainly at a lay audience and open up the opportunity to better understand the human body and its functions.
“The exhibitions are targeted mainly at a lay audience and open up the opportunity to better understand the human body and its functions,” explains Karen Schüssler, Director of Exhibitions and Marketing at the IfP. “The exhibits remind visitors of the fragility, individuality and anatomical beauty underneath their skin.” The portfolio of exhibitions has also been expanded, and in 2010 the IfP launched the world’s first exhibition of plastinated animals with Animal Inside Out.
The Institute is based in Heidelberg, and is comprised of around 30 employees, working closely with Gubener Plastinate GmbH – the laboratory that provides the plastinated specimens for education and the Body Worlds Exhibitions. Dr. Angelina Whalley is the curator of all the Body Worlds exhibitions and also manager of the IfP, and Rurik von Hagens heads up the Gubener Plastinate GmbH, which was founded in 2006, and also includes a public exhibition space – the Plastinarium. This is an anatomical teaching centre that includes a large collection of specimens, as well as hands-on and demonstrative instruction into the plastination process. The first Body Worlds museum was also recently opened in Berlin.
The exhibits remind visitors of the fragility, individuality and anatomical beauty under their skin.
Even as Body Worlds expands its travels to new audiences around the globe, the IfP continues to provide operational and marketing services for the exhibitions, alongside an ongoing focus on research.
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