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24 September 2014

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You are in: Manchester > Faith > Science v Religion

Dr Gunther von Hagens and Bishop of Manchester

Clash: Dr von Hagens and the Bishop

Science v Religion

The human body is the ultimate machine. And soon to be showing alongside the engines at the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) is an exhibition of real human corpses. But is it a lesson in science? Or ‘a little shop of horrors’? Join the debate:

Since it first opened ten years ago, 25 million people have been to see anatomist Dr Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds show and its human bodies, preserved using his ground-breaking technique of plastination.

Basketball player

Respectful? Showing at Body Worlds

Now Body Worlds 4 is coming to Manchester (from Feb 22) displaying dozens of real bodies stripped of their skins and arranged in a series of lifelike poses, dancing, playing football, cards or musical instruments.

And an almighty clash with the city’s religious leaders awaits.

‘Horror show’

The exhibition is no stranger to controversy. But now, the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev Nigel McCullough has condemned Body Worlds saying that the human body, made in God’s image, should be shown respect and not used for profit or entertainment.

"My concern is that the bodies of people who have lived lives, some of whom, I suspect, with quite a bit of suffering, are simply being used effectively for a kind of freaky horror show."

The Church has also set up a campaign website which attacks the museum for allowing free entry to under 5s, and claims that Body Worlds could result in a reduction in organ and body donation in Manchester.


Dr von Hagens, meanwhile, has stressed that all the body specimens used were donated freely. He also argued that Body Worlds’ origins were not in the Victorian freak show, as the Church is claiming, but ironically in religion itself!.

"Anatomical exhibitions originated in churches during the Renaissance,” he said, “...when church leaders viewed anatomy and dissection as a window into God's work."

Tony Hill, acting director of MOSI said: "As well as being a fascinating insight into the human body, the exhibition is very educational, as it demonstrates to people the impact of unhealthy lifestyles on our bodies."

He also added that the museum was only promoting Body Worlds to children aged 11+.

Have Your Say

What do you think? Is Body Worlds a science show? Or a freak show?

last updated: 21/02/2008 at 18:33
created: 08/02/2008

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

We all look like this underneath, no point in calling it a freak show, These bodies were donated to there own will, they wanted to be preserved using plastination,

How is viewing the human body a freak show? Isn't this what our body really looks like without skin?

barbara connaire
I think Body Worlds is very educational allowing us to gain more knowledge about the organs and makeup of our own bodies, giving us a greater understanding of our organs and their functions

not at all, the bodies were donated freely and is a huge insight of our bodies.

Mike Neary
Me and my wife have been to see this exhibition and both thought it was great it gives you a great incite into your own body and makes you appreciate how wonderful it is.We both left with a greater understanding of our own body's. How can that be a bad thing?

Adele Wilkinson
I think Body Worlds is both science and a freak show at the same time. No one is being hurt but many people are being informed about their 'insides'. I have a right to know what I am like inside and this can really only be done in such a shocking way. I also have the right not to go if I choose.

Kathleen Duggan
How did fetuses give their consent to plastination? Adults, yes, except for the pregnant woman who after taking her own life was abandoned by her relatives so effectively no consent was given.

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