Body Worlds: Pulse

Frequently Asked Questions

Body Worlds: Pulse

What is Plastination?

Plastination is a unique process invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens to preserve specimens for medical education. Plastination is the process of extracting all bodily fluids and soluble fats from specimens, replacing them through vacuum forced impregnation with reactive resins and elastomers, and then curing them with light, heat, or certain gasses, which give the specimens rigidity and permanence.

Where did the specimens on display come from?

The BODY WORLDS exhibitions rely on the generosity of body donors, individuals who bequeathed their bodies upon their death to be used for educational purposes in the exhibition. All of the full body plastinates and the majority of the organ specimens are from these body donors; some specific specimens are from a number of old European university collections, many of which predate the 20th century.

What review process did the California Science Center go through when considering this exhibition?

When first considering BODY WORLDS, the Science Center conducted the most extensive review it has ever done for any exhibit. We established an Ethics Advisory Committee made up of diverse voices in our community. They helped us verify that the body specimens available for each BODY WORLDS exhibit were properly acquired through body donations. They also reviewed the ethical issues and helped us address community sensitivities concerning the exhibits. Learn more about the Ethics Advisory Committee. 

The committee determined that the exhibits have considerable educational value, and that they are highly appropriate for the Science Center. They made several recommendations that helped us develop more educational and appealing exhibits. We also conducted a survey of our Science Center guests. Their positive interest in the exhibits and specific suggestions were very helpful in developing the presentation.

Is this exhibition appropriate for children?

The California Science Center welcomes both adults and children to BODY WORLDS: Pulse. However, this exhibition may not be suitable for some children, and the Science Center has determined that a responsible adult must accompany all children 12 years old and younger. We ask that you become familiar with the exhibition by reading the one-page Parent Guide (available in English or Spanish) before deciding whether or not to bring your child to BODY WORLDS: Pulse. Other material is available for further information.

What is the purpose of this exhibition?

Through the exhibition, we feel guests will gain profound insights into the structure and function of healthy and unhealthy bodies in a way that, to date, has not been possible on such a comprehensive scale. The Science Center’s mission is to stimulate curiosity and science learning, and we feel BODY WORLDS: Pulse will help us do just that.

Why use real human bodies instead of constructed models?

Real human bodies show the details of physiology, anatomy, and disease that cannot be shown with models. They also allow us to understand that each body has it own unique features, even on the inside. Finally, we have learned from previous BODY WORLDS exhibitions how guests are drawn to real specimens in a way they are not drawn to plastic models. One of the special features of science centers is that they offer people a chance to see the real thing in a safe and informative environment.

Why are the plastinates posed the way they are?

The poses of the plastinates have been carefully thought out and serve educational aims. Each plastinate is posed to illustrate different physiological features. The chosen poses highlight specific anatomical features, allowing guests to relate the plastinates to his or her own body.

How many plastinates are in the exhibition?

The BODY WORLDS: Pulse exhibition presents about 200 individual plastinates, including plastinated organs, body parts, transparent slices, corrosion plastinates, and 20 whole-body plastinates.

Can I take photographs in the exhibition?

Yes, photography is allowed in the exhibition.

Is the audio tour included with the exhibition ticket?

No, audio tours must be purchased on-site at the California Science Center.

Body Worlds: Pulse