Horror Museums

Horror Meets Science in Body Worlds Amsterdam

If there is one term that whets the appetite of horror fans, in a slightly strange or disturbing way, it is “corpses” – as long as it is done in the safe and harmless environment of the cinema and television screen, of course. But besides this, there are also tourist attractions that place the human body in the center, in its most basic forms. The Body Worlds exhibition in Amsterdam is an example of an interesting attraction that receives excellent reviews. But What is Body Worlds Amsterdam exactly? Is Body Worlds Museum in Amsterdam really scary? And to what extent is this an attraction intended for those with fear running through their veins?

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Bodies, Bodies, Bodies: Meet The Body Worlds Amsterdam

You may have already heard about the Body Worlds exhibition in other circumstances, and not only in its Amsterdam context. This is no coincidence: alongside the permanent Body Worlds locations, among others in Amsterdam and Berlin, it is a traveling exhibition, which has been presented in countless cities around the world. In Amsterdam itself it is exhibited regularly after two temporary exhibitions of the “Body Worlds” were very successful in the city. Since the first presentation of the traveling exhibition in 1995, the various Body Worlds exhibitions have attracted over 50 million people in more than 150 cities around the world – making it one of the most successful traveling exhibitions you will find today.

The first question you may ask is if you see in Body Worlds Amsterdam real bodies, and the answer is clear: Yes, indeed! As its name suggests, Body World Museum Amsterdam showcases the human body, or rather human bodies along with body parts and organs. These are, of course, real bodies, which have undergone a careful preservation process called “Plastination“. The process was developed by a German anatomy expert named Dr. Gunther von Hagens, back in 1977. It expresses in simple words the preservation of bodies with the help of plastic materials – which will ensure that they will be well preserved even for a longer period than the Egyptian mummies.

Without going too much into small resolutions of the process, it includes several steps. The first is the injection of formaldehyde (or formalin) into the body, to kill the bacteria and stop their decay process. To make it short, the process then includes removing the fluids and fats and replacing them with acetone, sawing the bodies and cutting them up, positioning the body, And its difficulty.

The bottom line is that the entire process of one bpdy requires about 1,500 hours of work, according to estimates, and lasts about one year. In the end, you get a body that almost completely mimics the intimate structure of the body. Or according to Dr. von Hagens himself: “Reveals the beauty hidden underneath to the skin and perpetuates it in the elusive space between death and decay”.

Gunther von Hagens
Gunther von Hagens. Photo: Túrelio. CC BY-SA 2.0

Died Happily Ever After

The body exhibition in Amsterdam spans six floors. It presents over 200 authentic anatomical exhibits, including bodies in various positions, organs, and human body systems. The current exhibition, under the name “Body Worlds Happiness Project Amsterdam”, shows what happens to the body in different situations and refers to areas such as nutrition, movement, and even sexuality – in a more refined way than the adult version of the exhibition, which appeared in Germany in 2009, presented two bodies in a sexual intercourse position and provoked enormous criticism.

If the above descriptions of Body World in Amsterdam exhibition make you happy, maybe you should see a psychologist. And now seriously: it seems that happiness is an integral part of this exhibition. The Body Worlds Exhibition Amsterdam is intended, among other things, to test the effect of happiness on the human body and mind, alongside other mysterious aspects related to the human body and its health. For example, you will scientifically learn why happy people live longer and how you can achieve this very important goal.

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Along with the anatomical accuracy and the impressive exhibits of The Body Worlds Amsterdam, some of the activities here are interactive and have added value. You can see, for example, what organs look like during various actions in the daily routine, such as dancing, jumping, or even playing the saxophone. On the other side of the equation, you will learn about the damages caused to the organs and systems of the body due to actions that the person performs (smoking for example) or as a result of various diseases. It may very well be that there are no more effective tools of persuasion for an active and healthy lifestyle, so the exhibition has educational or explanatory tools. This is also why it can also be suitable for children.

Body Worlds Amsterdam Entrance
The entrance of Body Worlds Amsterdam. Photo: Tobias Niepel. License: CC BY 2.0

A Free Body Test

The clear recommendation for every person is to take care of the body and perform periodic check-ups with a doctor. With or without contact, you can undergo a certain type of medical examination at the exhibition – and even free of charge. In the Body Scan room, you will see what you are made of and which aspects of your body require attention or even treatment. This is a comprehensive scan, using electrodes and other technologies, which will allow you to receive accurate and detailed information about your fat mass, muscle mass, the percentage of water in your body, and more. At the end of the process, you will receive a personal report, which can be your starting point on the way to change. You will find more information on the attraction’s website.

The Controversy Caused By The Body Worlds Exhibition

Even before it arrived in different locations worldwide, Body Worlds Exhibition provoked certain criticisms from health and human rights organizations. They wondered, for example, about the origin of the bodies and the desecration of their presentation to the general public. It even got the nickname “Butchers’ Market” (an expression that to horror fans seems like another possible chapter in the “Texas Chainsaws” series).

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In terms of the origin of the bodies, it seems we can be a little more relaxed. To understand why, let’s go back to a much more controversial exhibition called “Bodies… The Exhibition”, also from the creator of the plastination process of Dr. von Hangs. The exhibition was presented worldwide and got real cricriticismeyond the ethics and the natural debate surrounding the legitimacy of displaying corpses in public, claims were made that the origin of the corpses is from unknown Chinese people – from Chinese prisoners who were tortured and executed or from the black market – and that these people did not give their consent to this use of their corpses.

In the case of the Body Worlds in Amsterdam (which is a completely separate exhibition from the “world of the body”), the organizers state outright that each body on display was voluntarily donated by those people, when they were alive of course, for medical science and education without their identity or the circumstances of the death is revealed.

There is a voluntary donation program on the site, but you can join, and the organizers point out that this is the only exhibition in the world based on donor programs. The source of most of the exhibits in Amsterdam Body Worlds Museum is in the donation program, to which almost 20,000 donors are registered as of today through the Heidelberg Institute for Plastination founded by Dr. von Hargens in 1993, with a small portion coming from old anatomical collections or institutes.

Body Worlds Amsterdam: All The Information You Need To Know

Body Worlds in Amsterdam is, in our opinion, particularly interesting, and can provide an enriching experience – or even a little scary – for those looking for exhibitions and museums of a different kind. Located on Damrak Street in the heart of Amsterdam, a short walking distance from the city’s central station and most of its points of interest. It is open every day, except on special dates, between the hours of 10:00 and 22:00 (the last entry is one hour before closing). The exhibition can also be suitable to a certain extent for children and teenagers, at least those who are not sensitive to sights of this kind.

The visit to the exhibition begins on the sixth floor, which you will reach by elevator. From there you go down one floor each time until you reach the basement where there is a section intended for adults only. Each floor is related to a different aspect of the human body, and from our impressions, they are all interesting.

Body Worlds Amsterdam Tickets Information

The price of Body Worlds Amsterdam Tickets is 21.5 euros for an adult when ordering online (instead of 24.95 euros) and 13.5 euros for children aged 6-17. Babies and children up to the age of 5 enter free of charge. Body Worlds Amsterdam Prices may change from time to time, like any attraction, so we recommend you check it before arriving.

Moreover, it is recommended to buy the tickets in advance, which will allow you to reserve a place and also prevent yourself from waiting at the ticket office. Please note that, unlike other attractions, here you can enter the museum only on the date and time you set, in half-hour intervals. The encouraging news is that there is enough room for flexibility, which is probably required in almost every trip abroad: registrants can change the date of their visit or cancel it up to eight hours before the specified date. Please note there is no need to print the ticket. It can be viewed on smartphones.

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Body Worlds Amsterdam Opening Hours

Amsterdam Body Worlds is open daily from 10 a.m to 10 p.m, with a few exceptions:

  • On Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day it’s open between 10:00 a.m and 6 p.m
  • On New Year’s Eve it’s open between 10:00 a.m and 5 p.m
  • On New Year’s Day it’s open between 12:00 p.m and 8 p.m

The last entrance is one hour before closing time.

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How Long Does Body Worlds Amsterdam Take?

The total duration of the visit to the World of Corpses exhibition in Amsterdam is usually 2-1.5 hours

The exhibition is accessible to those with physical disabilities and wheelchair users, with an elevator and disabled services, except for the basement floor which cannot be reached with a wheelchair.

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