“Not everything has to be shown”

After months of controversy, the controversial "Museum of Man" by cadaver plastinator Gunther von Hagens has opened in Berlin. Criticism comes among other things from the churches.

Directly under the TV tower, 20 plastinated human bodies in different poses and about 200 prepared body parts will be displayed in the future. On the first day of the museum's opening, nearly 500 visitors were counted by the afternoon.

Meanwhile, criticism of the exhibition continues. Berlin Bishop Markus Droge said "not everything that can be shown needs to be shown". The "Museum of Man" serves the pleasure of sensation, but not a deeper understanding of the human being, said Droge at the "Ash Wednesday of the Artists" in the Catholic memorial church Maria Regina Martyrum.

The plastinated body parts would shamelessly reduce the human being to its material components and deprive it of a dignified culture of remembrance, the Protestant bishop continued. The superintendent of the Protestant church district of Berlin-Stadtmitte, Bertold Hocker, also repeated his criticism.

Funeral procession in protest

After the service, a funeral procession moved to the controversial permanent exhibition. "We have deliberately extended the Ash Wednesday service to include this funeral procession," emphasized pastor Cordula Machoni. "Ashes are the real symbol of transience, are a reminder and a reminder of one's own relativity and of inevitable death," Machoni said. The thought of death is all too readily repressed – as the new "Korperwelten" permanent exhibition shows, the pastor said. With the funeral procession, the Christian approach to death and dying should be brought back to consciousness.

The Berlin district of Mitte, which had tried until the very end to prevent the opening of the museum, referred to the still pending court proceedings before the Higher Administrative Court. The ie at stake is whether plastinated corpses may be shown in public at all. Also before the OVG is an appeal by the district against an order of the Administrative Court in which the court forbids the district from imposing on museum operators a penalty payment of 10.000 euros per opening day to raise.

Dispute over donors' consents

District Mayor Christian Hanke (SPD) also pointed out that of the body parts and whole body plastinates on display, the consent forms of the body donors were missing. However, the legality of "the hitherto unknown consents" is another prerequisite for the admissibility of the exhibition, said Hanke. According to Hagens, the exhibits in the first permanent exhibition of the Heidelberg plastinator all come from voluntary body donors.

The administrative court had ruled on 10. February ruled that the district office could still not prove that the exhibition violated the Berlin burial law. Mayor Hanke is now considering whether to appeal to the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg.

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