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'Body Worlds Vital': Body Art to the extreme meaning

One of the exhibit pieces at Body Worlds Vital in Boston
©Body Worlds Vital

If you frequent the MBTA system in Boston, you've probably glimpsed at one of the posters for “Body Worlds Vital” currently being showcased in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace (Quincy Market). Are you not sure what to make of it? You have a little less than a month to explore it's allure, as this only runs until Apr. 3, 2014. This exhibit takes the term “body art” to a whole new level. This display does not highlight tattoos, piercings, body painting, nor any other generally accepted type of “body as a canvas” art. This is literally a place to view real human bodies, beneath the skin.

Sound somewhat familiar? You may have seen “Bodies: The Exhibition” when it toured around the states. It had dissected bodies available for viewing for educational and entertainment purposes. However, controversy sprang up around the ethics of where the bodies originated from, with rumors of the cadavers being from executed Chinese prisoners. Which they could not verify nor deny. Rest assured, “Body Worlds Vital” is worlds apart in ethical standing. If you read the Frequently Asked Questions page, it states “The specimens in the BODY WORLDS exhibition come from the Institute for Plastination’s body-donor program. Dr. Gunther von Hagens established the body donation program in 1983, shortly after he invented Plastination. The program is now managed by Dr. von Hagens’ Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg, Germany. All donors are adults who gave their consent, during their lifetimes, to use their bodies for Plastination and specifically for the BODY WORLDS exhibits. Independent ethicists have reviewed the Institute for Plastination’s donor program and protocols and verified that the specimens were properly donated for the purpose of public exhibition. The Institute for Plastination has more than 13,000 donors on its roster, and more than 1,300 of them are Americans.”

You might be asking yourself what the purpose of the show is at this point. Here's some more information:

“Physician and anatomist Gunther von Hagens’ BODY WORLDS Vital celebrates the potential of the active and actualizing human body. Featuring authentic human bodies, the exhibition shows the body through cautionary displays about distress and disease, and inspirational insights about the virtuosity and resilience of the human body. The bodies are preserved through a remarkable process developed by Dr. von Hagens called Plastination, which enables visitors to actually see inside the body. In this collaboration between donors, anatomist, and visitors, the donors – having given legal consent during their lifetimes to participate in BODY WORLDS – act as guides and teachers, across time, on this motivational journey towards health and vitality”

School groups are encouraged to attend for a scholastic study of where art and science meet for a unique visual experience. Educators can contact the Group Sales department by visiting the website or by calling (978) 666-0298.

Wait, I thought most of Quincy Market was taken up by restaurants, kiosks and dining areas?

“BODY WORLDS Vital is located on the second floor of Quincy Market in Faneuil Hall Marketplace in a newly renovated 11,000 square foot, museum-quality space.”

This art loving, science appreciating writer plans to visit “Body Worlds Vital” to review the art aspect of manipulating the poses for greater effects and so forth. Stay tuned.

For even more information about this exhibition and to purchase your tickets, visit

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