We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

Is It “Science” to Show Cadavers Having Sex?

By Boonsri Dickinson
Sep 14, 2009 11:53 PMMay 5, 2023 2:41 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Yes, sex sells. But should it sell science? Anatomist Gunther von Hagens plans on opening a new kind of Body Exhibit, one that is akin to a sex show of dead corpses. The Swiss have already granted him the OK to set up the show in their country, as part of the Body Worlds exhibit. He’s tried to put it on before in Berlin, with a male and female corpse having sex, and met with protests. In response, he claimed that the two subjects had signed consent forms prior to their death, and agreed to have their bodies displayed in a sexual way. Now,


reports he’s ready for a full on show:

Von Hagens and his wife Angelina Whalley show corpses prepared using a technique invented by von Hagens called "plastination," that removes water from specimens and preserves them with silicon rubber or epoxy resin. "It's not my intention to show certain sexual poses. My goal is really to show the anatomy and the function," Body Worlds creative director Whalley told Reuters in an interview, adding the sex exhibition may open next year.

The regular Body World exhibit has racked up 27 million visitors, but constantly is called controversial for their use of corpses and dissection of skin and internal body parts. And while teaching about anatomy is a noble goal, is there really any educational purpose to this sex show? Or is von Hagens just very good at getting free press? Related Content: DISCOVER: Gross Anatomy

Image: flickr/ dustinkeirstead

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.