Behind the scenes

History of anatomy

The first rooms of the PLASTINARIUM provide the visitor with extensive information about the beginnings of anatomy. Here, the revolutionary significance of anatomy for medical progress and how it was pioneered by Renaissance artists such as Leonardo da Vinci is explained.

The preservation of anatomical preparations was essential for anatomical teaching. Using the example of eight horse heads, the method of dry preservation is explained, beginning with specimens dried in water, then paraffin preparation, the embedding of specimens in blocks of resin, through to today’s silicone plastination.

Gunther von Hagens invented the preservation process of plastination, which was revolutionary for medical training, in 1977 at the Anatomical Institute of the University of Heidelberg; he patented the method in 1977-82 and has been continuously developing it ever since. His first attempts at plastination can be seen here in Guben.

Skeleton production

Skeletal production involves removing organic tissue, such as skin, muscles, tendons, etc., to display the bone structures. The process is based on the use of enzymes and is called “maceration”.

Experience plastination live

In the plastination workshop you can experience the individual steps of the plastination process. These have been shown as models and are illustrated by short films from the work areas.

In a freely accessible area, visitors can watch our staff at work on the anatomical preparation and ask questions. The preparation department is staffed by at least one employee including on Saturdays and Sundays.

Insight to BODY WORLDS

You are invited to look into another person’s body and discover your own in a whole new way. Take an inspiring journey through the human body and get a little closer to the mysteries of life. A real look into the complex interior of the body will change your view of your own body forever. Individual body systems and their vital functions are explained in our educational workshop.

The primary objective is health education. Whole-body preparations posed in lifelike ways, as well as numerous individual specimens – including a healthy lung compared to a smoking lung, a healthy knee joint and a knee joint with osteoarthritis, for example – demonstrate how important a healthy lifestyle is for maintaining healthy body functions.


The Plastinarium’s exhibit gallery displays impressive specimens from the ANIMAL INSIDE OUT exhibition. Due to the continuous development of the plastination process and the vast amount of space available in Guben, even the largest of animals can be preserved permanently. In the rotating exhibition area, two full life-size giraffes wow visitors. With their long necks, giraffes are the tallest living land animal, but, like us humans, they have only seven cervical vertebrae. This selection from the ANIMAL INSIDE OUT exhibition provides insight into the mysterious inner life of animals – beneath thier skin, fur and feathers.

None of the animals shown in the ANIMAL INSIDE OUT exhibition were killed for the purpose of plastination. Most of the animals died of natural causes and are donations from national and international zoos and animal parks, some of which wish to remain anonymous.