Plastination: The Art of Preservation
Plastination is the process of impregnating animal, human or plant tissues with a variety of plastic or silicone products to render the tissues odor-free, dry and permanently preserved for educational and instructional purposes. The process was invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens in 1977 at the University of Heidelberg, Germany and made popular through his many Body Worlds exhibitions around the globe.
Beginning in 2007, members of Grand Valley State University (GVSU) began studying plastination and investigating the opportunity to create a lab at GVSU. That became a reality in 2013, and since then, over 300 specimens have been plastinated for use in a variety of teaching roles. This exhibition tells the story of plastination at GVSU and walks viewers through the process and use of plastinates. It brings together over 20 animal specimens from the lab – currently the only plastination lab in Michigan.
Two students reviewing anatomy through use of plastinated leg.
Student applying silicone to a new tank
Student dissecting bat during plastination process
Want to know more about plastination and its history? Check out these resources:
- Find out more about plastination done through GVSU's Biomedical Sciences
- Additional information about Body Worlds
- More about the process of plastination
- List of current Body Worlds exhibitions
- Read about plastination's role in preservation for education in the Journal of Anatomy
- Watch the plastination process used to create the Body Worlds exhibits
Blue Wall Gallery
July 13 - December 14, 2018
Richard M. DeVos Center, Building B
Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Red Wall Gallery
January 7 – June 21, 2019
130 Lake Ontario Hall
Allendale, Michigan 49401
Gordon Gallery Hours:
Free and open to the public.
Gallery hours are reflective of the Richard M. Devos Center and Lake Ontario Hall, including changes made due to semester, holiday, or campus-wide event.
Closed on holiday weekends:
New Years, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day,Thanksgiving, and Christmas.