A German anatomist Gunther von Hagens, dubbed “Doctor Death” for preserving and displaying dead bodies as artworks, opens a museum in Berlin to showcase the grisly exhibits.
After 20 years of touring the world with his show and often courting controversy, Hagens is giving 20 complete corpses and about 200 body organs a permanent home at the foot of the Television Tower, a landmark at Alexanderplatz square in the German capital.
Donors such as Detlef von Wengler, 61, have volunteered to offer their own bodies for the “plastination” process after their death.
The process involves skinning the body parts and preserving them with a synthetic resin, laying bare the naked muscles, nerves and tendons.
“Some years ago I watched an American TV show where a photographer placed his camera in a coffin and every day it took a photo,” Wengler said.
“It was absolutely revolting to see the maggots feeding in that way and I said to myself: ‘I don’t want that’,” he said at the new museum’s presentation.
“I’ve also seen how a cremation works… I didn’t find that great either and then I saw this exhibition and thought to myself, that’s what I want,” he told AFP.
Despite his decision having divided opinion in his family, Wengler said he carried a donor card in his wallet that explicitly states who is to be the beneficiary of his corpse when he dies – Hagens’ “Body Worlds” project.
Organisers say more than 15 000 people are currently on the books worldwide as donors, the vast majority of them in Germany.