The faces of happiness

I bet you didn’t know that you could learn all you need to experience true happiness in a well-maintained, skinless corpse? But it’s true. One of the top attractions to see in Amsterdam is the Body Worlds museum: a project in happiness. You can browse the perfectly preserved remains of those who donated their bodies in the pursuit of true happiness and how it can be found, buried inside our own bodies.

Dead jumping man

Once you pay an extortionate price for getting into the Body Worlds museum (the answer to happiness is priceless, apparently), you can start your exploration at the top of the building and work your way down to street level. As you wander around you can gaze at the mummified dead bodies, twisted into different stationary actions like jumping over a fence or playing the saxophone, with a detailed description of the effect each activity has on your body. 


Around 200 human specimens are on display. From a swan made out of blood vessels to the physical affect neurological disorders, like Dementia and Alzheimer’s, have on the brain, to what happens to your body when you have sex (to highlight this there are two skinless people locked in the most uncomfortable sexual position imaginable), the list could go on and on. But, by the time you step out onto the streets of Amsterdam, you’ll be a little closer to the true meaning of happiness.


One of the more interesting parts of the whole exhibition was the growth of a fetus inside a womb. Every stage was documented with a plasticised baby and how it grows over the course of nine months until a new life is born into the world.


German scientist Gunther von Hagen was a true pioneer in the field of anatomy. He invented the practice of plastination, which involves a process around 1500 hours to perfectly preserve one specimen. Over the next few years, von Hagen developed the Body Worlds exhibition, which has been showcased in 50 countries around the world. Of course, any such project is met with controversy, with religious officials from the Catholic church and rabbis stating that this treatment of dead bodies is disrespectful.


No matter how you feel about von Hagen’s plasticised bodies there’s one thing to take away from these skinless people with perfectly preserved innards. Happiness can not be found in a new handbag or even a trip abroad. The path to true happiness begins by looking inside yourself.

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