Plastinarium – Guben, Germany - Atlas Obscura


Guben, Germany

The home of the morbid art of corpse plastination is open for visitors to view the fascinating, but stomach-churning process. 


With the popularity of the now ubiquitous Body Worlds exhibits touring the world with their skinned and exploded figures in motion, it is little wonder that the inventor of the technique that made those displays possible would start his very own scientific house of gore.

Located in the city of Guben, Germany, after being run off from previously planned sites for their museum-lab, the Plastinarium presents the process and results of a controversial embalming process developed by one Dr. Gunther von Hagens. The process involves removing most of the water from a corpse’s dead tissue and replacing it with synthetic polymers that preserve the bodies in perpetuity as medical models and items of curiosity. This is usually done once the subject has had their skin taken away, or their component parts separated. Von Hagens collects his specimens from body donors who sign a contract allowing him to plastinate their bodies after their deaths.

The Plastinarium allows visitors to walk through the steps of the gruesome, but fascinating process as they tour the actual lab where the preservation is taking place. The space, once a clothing factory, provides ample room for both process and display, and there is no shortage of pieces in the museum. Many of these are animals, such as giraffes with flayed necks, but there are also a number of humans who are said to have voluntarily donated their bodies to the procedure.   

The center supplies the touring Body Worlds exhibits with new displays and provides upkeep for their existing ones, but anyone wanting to see how the bodies get made can now come right to the source. 

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