Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life


Don’t wait until it’s too late! BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life closes Oct 4, 2020.

This fascinating exhibit is closing soon! Develop a new appreciation of the power you have to keep your body healthy by viewing 100+ real human specimens up close.

Admissions are limited to just 25% of regular capacity, and carefully staggered timed entries help eliminate crowding so you can focus on spending time together learning how your choices impact your body through all stages of life.

To Prioritize Health and Safety During Your Visit:

- Exhibit admissions have been limited to just 25% of regular capacity

- Carefully staggered timed entries have helped eliminate crowding

- Online ticketing is available (we'll scan your ticket for contactless entry)

- We've implemented enhanced cleaning protocols and installed additional hand sanitizing stations throughout the exhibit

- Guests and staff will be wearing face coverings

- We've created social distancing signs to ensure you'll have plenty of space

    Learn About OMSI Reopening >

    Understand Yourself From Within

    Get the inside story on how your body lives and changes through time, and how you have the power to keep it healthy throughout your lifespan.

    Visitor Info

    About the Exhibit

    100+ Specimens

    Visitors will see individual organs and systems, as well as full-body plastinates posed to show specific anatomical features and how our bodies respond internally to movements during physical activities.

    The Cycle of Life

    From prenatal development and infancy, to childhood and adolescence, to adulthood and old age, these extraordinary real human specimens demonstrate the complexity and resilience of our bodies throughout our lifespan.


    Plastination is the unique process invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens to preserve specimens for medical education. This technique replaces fluids and fats with plastics, after which specimens are fixed into lifelike poses and are hardened with gas, heat or light.


    For Parents

    The purpose of this exhibit is to educate visitors of all ages about health, disease prevention and the body's full potential. Many families find the exhibit helpful in discussing the health and well-being of loved ones. However, it may not be suitable for some children. 

    Becoming familiar with the exhibit before deciding whether or not to share the experience with your child is recommended.



    For Educators

    Planning a field trip? Your students will explore the human life cycle as a natural progression, discover the incredible feats and cautionary tales about age-related matters and will take away a new appreciation of the power we have to keep our bodies healthy throughout our life span. 

    Download these helpful guides to enhance your visit:



    Questions about BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life?
    Browse our FAQ's for info on the exhibit.

    What is BODY WORLDS?

    BODY WORLDS exhibits are the first of their kind to inform the visitor about anatomy, physiology and health by viewing real human bodies preserved through plastination—the preservation process invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens while he was working as an anatomist at the University of Heidelberg.

    Since the beginning of the exhibit series in Japan in 1995, more than 50 million visitors in more than 145 cities across Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Oceana have seen the world's most successful traveling exhibition.

    What does BODY WORLDS show?

    Each BODY WORLDS exhibit contains real human specimens—including whole-body plastinates as well as individual organs, organ configurations, and translucent body slices—that provide a comprehensive insight into the anatomy and physiology of the human body.

    The plastinates in the exhibit take the visitor on an exciting journey of discovery under the skin. In addition to organ functions, common diseases are described in an easily understood manner by comparing healthy and affected organs. They show the long-term impact of diseases and addictions, such as tobacco or alcohol consumption, and demonstrate the mechanics of artificial knee and hip joints.

    How much of the human body does the exhibit show?

    The human body is displayed in its entirety. With a goal of educating visitors about health, the plastinates provide a comprehensive insight into the anatomy and physiology of the human body. In addition, there are displays of individual organs and each of the systems of the body, including the urogenital system.

    Is this exhibit appropriate for children?

    Adults of all ages and some children will find BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life fascinating. The exhibit is developed for children approximately 5th grade and up, but it is up to parents, guardians or school staff to decide whether BODY WORLDS is appropriate for the children in their care.

    Full-body plastinates—real human specimens preserved for educational and instructional purposes—are on display throughout the exhibit. Guests can see all elements of the human body including musculature, healthy and diseased organs, male and female genitals and reproductive systems, the nervous system, and the skeletal system.

    Becoming familiar with and discussing the exhibit with any accompanying children before deciding whether or not to share the experience with them is recommended.

    Why is it important for the public to see this exhibit?

    OMSI and the organizers of BODY WORLDS believe that when people understand more about how the body works and how it can break down, they are more likely to choose healthy and sustainable lifestyles.

    Would I be able to learn just as much from books
    or models of human anatomy?

    The use of authentic specimens allows a penetrating examination and study of disease, physiology and anatomy unmatched by models, textbooks or photos. In addition, the exhibit allows visitors to understand that each and every body has its own unique features, even on the inside.

    The experience in other cities has clearly demonstrated that exhibit visitors are drawn to real specimens in a way that cannot be replicated by models.

    What is plastination?

    Plastination is a unique process invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens in 1977 to preserve specimens for medical education. The process replaces bodily fluids and soluble fat in specimens with fluid plastics that harden after vacuum-forced impregnation.

    After the bodies are fixed into lifelike poses, they are hardened with gas, heat or light. The plastinates show how our bodies respond internally to movements in everyday life, as well as during athletic activities.

    Learn more about plastination >

    Why are the plastinates posed the way they are?

    The poses are chosen to highlight specific anatomical features and allow the visitor to relate the plastinate to his or her own body. They have been carefully thought out and serve educational aims—for instance, the athletic poses illustrate the use of muscle systems while playing sports.

    Where did the plastinates on display come from?
    Will we know who they are or how they died?

    The BODY WORLDS exhibits rely on the generosity of body donors. Each individual in the exhibit bequeathed that, upon their death, their bodies could be used for educational purposes. All the whole-body plastinates and the majority of the specimens are from these body donors. A few organs and specific specimens that show unusual conditions come from old anatomical collections and morphological institutes.

    As agreed upon by the body donors, their identities and causes of death are not disclosed. The exhibit focuses on the nature of our bodies, not on providing personal information.

    Learn more about the Institute for Plastination’s body donation program >

    What times are the museum and exhibit open?

    BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life will be on view at OMSI until October 4, 2020. The museum and exhibit will be open Monday through Sunday from 10 am to 5:30 pm through September 30, and 10am to 7pm October 1 - October 4,2020. 

    Where can I buy tickets to the exhibit?

    Tickets to BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life can be purchased online, via phone at 503.797.4000, or in person at the museum until October 4, 2020.

    This is a timed-entry exhibit and we're limiting BODY WORLDS to 25% of capacity, allowing us to manage guest flow and help keep you safe. We strongly recommend purchasing admission tickets and parking online prior to your visit. Please plan to be in line no more than 10 minutes prior to the printed time on your ticket.

    How long does it take to see the exhibit?

    Individual visit times will vary, but most guests can anticipate spending 60 to 90 minutes to view BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life.

    There is no time limit within the exhibit, and guests are welcome to enjoy it for as long as the museum is open.

    Is photography allowed in the exhibit?

    Absolutely! Guests are encouraged to take photos so they can share with their friends and family (don’t forget to tag the museum: @omsi and #omsi). Guests should respect the privacy of others and not use flash, so as not to distract from the exhibit experience.

    Commercial image reproductions are not permitted. For the privacy of guests, and out of respect to the donors and the Institute of Plastination, photography that becomes distracting or disruptive will be restricted at OMSI’s discretion.

    Are food and drink allowed in the exhibit?

    Food or drink are not permitted in the feature exhibit hall.

    Can I bring my stroller into the exhibit with me?

    Yes. Strollers are permitted inside the exhibit.

    Has this exhibit been to OMSI before?

    BODY WORLDS has a number of different exhibits traveling the world at any given time. In 2006, OMSI brought BODY WORLDS 3 to Portland, and in 2011–2012 hosted BODY WORLDS & The Brain.

    BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life offers a dedicated look at human development, longevity, and aging. This full exhibit is all-new to OMSI.

    Additionally, even if guests have seen a previous BODY WORLDS exhibit, they likely saw it in a different time of their life—this exhibit provides new knowledge about their current life stage and the power they have to keep their body healthy.