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A guard unveils one of the displays before the opening of Body Worlds, an exhibition in Frankurt-Fechenheim, Germany.
A guard unveils one of the displays before the opening of Body Worlds, an exhibition in Frankurt-Fechenheim, Germany. (Peter Jaeger / S&S)

FRANKFURT, Germany — A rider on a bucking horse jumping out of his skin — literally — is just one of the many unusual anatomical exhibits on display at a new exhibit at a hall in a Frankfurt suburb.

The exhibit, called Body Worlds or Körperwelten, takes a look at what humans and other animals look like under the skin’s surface. It opens Friday and runs until April 18 at the NAXOS Event-Halle in Frankfurt-Fechenheim.

The exhibit uses the bodies of actual people who donated their bodies to science. They are shown in a state of “plastinization” — a preservation process developed by Dr. Gunther von Hagens in Heidelberg in 1977.

The process begins when fluids from all organs and body cavities are drained. In a later step, plastic is infused into the body, a process that can take several weeks to complete. Unlike previous methods of preservation, the process retains the natural surface and color of the body without any odor, making them ideal specimens for study.

More than 12.5 million people have visited Body Worlds’ traveling exhibits since the first opened in 1997 in Mannheim. Previous exhibits have created controversy, with religious leaders calling them “degrading to human dignity.” According to Body Worlds’ Web site, the Munich city council last year banned the exhibition.

Von Hagens, who addressed a press conference Thursday, said he created the exhibition to inform, educate and entertain regular people as well as medical professionals.

Visitors can experience the three-dimensional anatomy lesson with step-by-step diagrams that accompany each specimen. A self-guided audio tour, available in English, walks the viewer through each display. The entire audio tour is 2½ hours long, but visitors can choose to play only parts of the tour if they wish.

Body Worlds is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Admission is 12 euros for adults and 9 euros for students up to age 30. Senior citizens and unemployed people is 9 euros, and 6 euros for children.

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