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A mystery uncovered near Dalian

By Eric Jou (China Daily)

09:33, May 03, 2012

What appear to be two deer are in fact two halves of one after the process of plastination. Photos by Eric Jou / China Daily

After a controversial run in the US, Hoffen is focusing on preserving more animals than humans. Eric Jou reports.

In the middle of a dusty road beyond Dalian, Liaoning province, is the Mysterious Life Museum, an unpromising name that belies a nondescript brick-and-mortar warehouse. Inside, an eeriness presides. There are three floors of installations of bodies, both human and animal. The entire museum, in fact, is filled with preserved human and animal remains, the handiwork of Dalian Hoffen Bio-Technique Co, the very same company that created the controversial show in the United States titled Bodies Exhibition.

Founded in Dalian by professor Sui Hongjin in 2004, Hoffen specializes in preserving remains in a process called plastination. The art of plastination, pioneered by Sui's teacher and competitor Gunther Von Hagens in the late 1970s, preserves human and animal remains in a semi-plastic form.

Hoffen is one of three companies that specializes in bio-plastination techniques; another is the Institute of Plastination run by Von Hagens.

To Sui, a medical school professor and mortician, the point of human plastination is all for science.

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