Dr. Gunther von Hagens’ acclaimed but somewhat macabre exhibitions have been traveling the world for 20 years, visited by more than 40 million people. Now, he has set up a permanent home in Amsterdam’s city center for Body Worlds: The Happiness Project, which highlights the benefits of happiness and exercise to the human body.
Dr. von Hagens is a controversial German scientist who invented a new method for preserving human tissue called plastination and has subsequently exhibited it to audiences around the world. Displays are typically not for the faint-hearted, as they include human corpses stripped of their skin or in various states of dissection, some of which are neatly sliced to illustrate disease—the smoker’s lungs would likely make anyone quit the habit on the spot—as well as fetuses. Nevertheless, the exhibition has proven so popular that time slots are required when booking.
Purchasing skip-the-line admission tickets ahead of time guarantees entrance and saves time by allowing you to bypass the ticket line. Save money by combining a skip-the-line admission ticket to Body Worlds with another Amsterdam attraction, such as a canal cruise or hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour. Discounted admission is included with many city passes, such as the Holland Pass.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Body Worlds is a must-visit for those with an interest in science, anatomy, or simply the weird and wonderful.
- Most, but not all, of the exhibition is accessible to wheelchair users, who get discounted admission.
- Children are permitted to visit the exhibition, but it is advised that they be prepared in advance.
- Visitors are strictly prohibited from touching the displays.
How to Get There
Body Worlds is centrally located in Amsterdam at Damrak 66, less than a 10-minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal train station. Tram numbers 4, 9, 16, 24, and 25 stop directly at the door.
When to Get There
Body Worlds is open every day—365 days a year. Select the time of your visit when booking your ticket, which you should do ahead of time to avoid the disappointment of finding the exhibit fully booked. Regular opening hours are 9am to 8pm (to 10pm on Fridays), and hours are slightly reduced on and around Christmas and New Year’s Day. The last admission is one hour before closing time.
What is Plastination?
Plastination, the technique developed by Body Worlds founder Dr. Gunther von Hagens in 1977, is a method that makes it possible to view the inside of a human body. Using a special vacuum process, tissue fluid is replaced by reaction plastics such as silicone rubber, which halt the decomposition and desiccation process.