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"Body Worlds" Exhibit Returns to Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- As we close the observance of Respect Life Month as a Universal Church, a controversial museum exhibit featuring preserved human remains returns to southeastern Wisconsin.

On February 7, 2014, the Milwaukee Public Museum hosts the globally recognized “Body Worlds” exhibition. This public display of deceased humans and animals is the result of the work of a German anatomist, Gunther von Hagens, and uses a technique called “plastination.”  

Von Hagens says donors consented to the usage of their bodies for the exhibition, and that they are used for “educational and instructional purposes.” Since its premiere in Mannheim, Germany in 1998, organizers say more than 38 million people have seen the exhibition worldwide.

The exhibition has been a source of debate because of the donation of human bodies, the process used in preserving them, the various display methods and the uncertainty about post-exhibit care.  

A reflection paper on “Body Worlds” is available on the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s website. The statement discusses:

•    The respect we must have for the human body – alive or dead
•    The plastination of babies as well as of adults
•    The profit this exhibit generates
•    Children viewing the exhibition
•    The question of its potential value as education and/or art
•    What is meant by “informed consent”
•    Recommendations regarding how to deal with the BODY WORLDS exhibition

If you choose to attend this exhibition, we recommend that you share your impressions with others in a faith context setting. For additional information, you may contact the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s John Paul II Center for Lifelong Faith and Ministry Formation at 414-758-2201.

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