After captivating visitors the world over, the oft-controversial exhibition of human specimens including whole-body plastinates, organs and translucent body slices takes up permanent residence in central Amsterdam. Featuring an extensive selection of authentic human specimens, the emphasis of this exhibition is on the effect of happiness on health. A short walk from Amsterdam Central Station, the former American Express building has been fully refurbished to become home to the permanent BODY WORLDS exhibition.
Body Worlds is a traveling exposition of dissected human bodies, animals, and other anatomical structures of the body that have been preserved through the process of plastination. Gunther von Hagens developed the preservation process which "unite subtle anatomy and modern polymer chemistry", in the late 1970s. A series of Body Worlds anatomical exhibitions has toured many countries worldwide, sometimes raising controversies about the sourcing and display of actual human corpses and body parts. Nevertheless, Von Hagens maintains that all human specimens were obtained with full knowledge and consent of the donors before they died, and his organization keeps extensive documentation of this permission. Von Hagens emphasizes both educational and artistic aspects of his complex and innovative dissections, and offers online teaching guides for educators. He also tries to distinguish his efforts from those of competitors who may have been less thorough in obtaining advance permission from their specimen sources.