The Real Bodies | A Controversial Exhibition

The Real Bodies | A Controversial Exhibition

Viewer discretion is advised, the below is dealing with sensitive materials related to real human exhibits – muscles, organs, skin, bodies etc.

Wow! when I heard/saw (on every billboard known to man lol!) that “Real Bodies” the exhibit was in Sydney, boy was I excited.

As I personally love learning about all things to do with the human anatomy and physiology, I was quite curious as to what exactly this exhibit is about? I mean they’ve called it “Real Bodies” but surely that’s just the name, right? Ahh Nope… SHOCK! “Real Bodies” means Real Bodies! As in real humans who once roamed the earth! Ahhhhhh!

Real Bodies the Exhibit presents the artful display of 20 REAL, perfectly preserved human bodies and 200 anatomical specimens – fancy wording for human organs (don’t worry I’ve got your back 😉), so strap in and prepare to be amazed and intrigued, because below are some pretty incredible pictures and some fascinating information. This one will knock your socks off, I guarantee it!

I know that there is quite a bit of controversy around this exhibition, but after doing some research I decided I still wanted to go ahead with posting it. I was unsure if you guys would be interested in seeing a post on this, so on my twitter account, I ran a quick poll. The voting was unanimous, even though only 7 people voted lol. But nonetheless, I have decided to write a post for this exhibition.

I will also dive into why this exhibition is so controversial so that you can make a well thought out decision if you wish to go or not.  Again, if you don’t like to see bodies, organs etc then please don’t click on this post.  
Another quick disclaimer: I have taken the pictures with my iPhone so the quality is not as good as it is normally. But somehow I found it a tad strange and disrespectful to be taking pictures with my DSLR camera. So my apologies for that.


Real Bodies The Exhibition presents the artful display of 20 real, perfectly preserved human bodies and over 200 anatomical specimens, inviting visitors of all ages to examine the human experience from the first breath to the last in a dramatic and moving display. The exhibit displays internal organs and organic systems, bodies staged in active poses, and fetuses in various stages of development.

The exhibition allows visitors to learn about their own bodies; it ultimately teaches guests how to take better care of their health and make positive lifestyle choices. The Exhibition enables guests to see and understand in a whole new way the medical conditions that they themselves or friends and family members may face. Full body and partial specimens demonstrate the manifestations of various pressing health concerns, including obesity, breast cancer, colon cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, ectopic pregnancy, arthritis, osteoporosis, and bone fractures.

The Exhibition also highlights the damage done to organs due to the perils of smoking and dietary excesses.


There is quite a lot of controversy surrounding this exhibition. The main subject of controversy is that people are not sure that the bodies used are actually unclaimed bodies, and if they are unclaimed, that people were given the right amount of time to look for their loved one. Another worry is that the bodies once belonged to Chinese political prisoners who were tortured and murdered.

On the website of the exhibition, you can find a lot of information on these subjects. Some of the most important ones can be found underneath:

Where have the bodies in the exhibition come from?
The specimens in Real Bodies The Exhibition are provided by Dalian Hoffen Bio-Technique Co. Ltd, one of the world’s leading centres of plastination research and innovation. The specimens are all unclaimed bodies that have been donated by the relevant authorities to medical universities in China. The specimens featured in the exhibition were donated legally, were never prisoners of any kind, showed no signs of trauma or injury, were free of infectious disease, and died of natural causes.
What is the process to determine if a body is unclaimed?
The exact process varies from province to province, but for example, if a person passes away in a place other than a hospital, the police may make local enquires at the scene of the discovery of the body and with persons in the vicinity who may know or have knowledge of the deceased, to ascertain as far as possible the details surrounding the death and the contact details of the family members. Searches will also be made in the police computer databases, if necessary, to see if he/she is wanted or has been reported missing. If the body is still unclaimed after a set period however, the coroner will designate the body as unclaimed, and the mortuary will inform the relevant government department to remove the dead body for cremation or donation to medical universities.
Do bodies need to be plastinated within a certain time frame (e.g. within 48 hours)?
The polymer preservation, or plastination, process could be 10 days or 100 years after death, as long as the body has been preserved. Contrary to some reports, the plastination process does not need to begin within 24-48 hours after death.


The exhibition consists of 11 galleries dedicated to a specific organ or function within the body.  You will walk through the following galleries:

  • Anatomist’s study
  • Breathe
  • Hunger
  • Rhythm
  • Move
  • Think
  • What Becomes of Us
  • Love
  • Beginnings
  • Repair

In order to not give away the entire exhibition, I will only show you a few pictures. I don’t want to ruin the experience for you as it was pretty eye-opening. You wander through all the galleries where they explain what organs do, what their use is etc. Underneath are some pictures to give you an impression.


When you are walking through the exhibition, which will take you about 1 hour, you keep forgetting that the organs and bodies are actually real. It is a strange thought that these people once roamed the streets with us. For the majority, I found it set up well and I liked that they had different galleries dedicated to 1 subject.

The thing that I find that they could improve on it the information that is given to you. It was all very clinical and ‘medical’ and I would have liked to have had more information on it. For example: is the liver you are looking at healthy or not? how can you tell? How old was the person? did he/she have a healthy lifestyle? How can you tell? I know that they don’t have a lot of information on these people, but I am sure they could have added more info.

In general, I did like it and I have learned some stuff about the human body and what everything actually looks like. Like did you know: Babies are born with 300 bones: adults have 206? Or that the saliva that you produce over a lifetime can fill TWO Olympic swimming pools… YUK and that the average human dream lasts 2 to 3 seconds(mine feel like hours sometimes). Super interesting.


Byron Kennedy Hall
Entertainment Quarter
122 Lang Road, Moore Park

The easiest way to get to Byron Kennedy Hall is by bus. It is a 20-minute ride from Sydney central. Just hop on either 393, M10, 374 or M50.  You get off at Anzac Pde opp Sydney Girls High School and walk for 6-minutes to the entertainment hall. 


10am to 5pm (last entry 4.00pm), 7 days a week.


Peak Session Pricing  Off Peak Session Pricing Group Pricing 
Adults $ 35 $ 32 $ 27
Concession $ 32 $ 27 $ 23
Junior $ 20 $ 18  $ 23
A family of 4 Bundle $ 80 $ 70 $ 16

If you book online there is an additional booking fee of $1,50. 

We bought the tickets online a few days in advance. You are asked to book in a time, but I heard that it’s not a major issue if you don’t arrive exactly at that time. 

Would you be interested in going to an exhibition like this? 

Let me know in the comments below. 

If you like this post, then please share it for me. I can’t do this without you xxx 

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