The IfP is a private scientific institute, located in Heidelberg, which focuses on the development and progression of Plastination. Plastination is the method of polymer impregnation, which preserves anatomical specimens as permanent, life-like, and aesthetic materials for instruction and scientific research. The specimens are dry, odorless, retain their natural surface structure, and remain accessible for virtually an unlimited amount of time. These characteristics lend to the specimens inestimable value both for training doctors and medical students as well as the general public about medicine and health. 

The aim of the Institute for Plastination (IfP) is to produce human specimens and make them available both for basic and continuing medical training of doctors as well as for the general medical education of the public. The specimens are prepared solely for this purpose and only passed on directly to recognized educational and research establishments and scientific museums, but not to private individuals or outside suppliers.

In addition, the IfP coordinates the traveling BODY WORLDS exhibitions. Each BODY WORLDS exhibition displays approximately 200 authentic plastinated human specimens and 20 aesthetically posed whole-body plastinates. The exhibition is structured in such a way that visitors can experience it much as they would a three dimensional textbook: visitors are able to see exactly how their own bodies are constructed as they tour the exhibition. There are also specimens that show the effects of disease such as a heart attack or cancer. The anatomical specimens on display in the BODY WORLDS exhibition stem from our body donors who declared that their bodies should be made available after their deaths for the education of physicians and the instruction of laypersons. BODY WORLDS has drawn more than 40 million visitors in Europe, Africa, America and Asia, which makes it the most successful traveling exhibition of all time.

The Institute was founded in 1993 by Dr. Gunther von Hagens, physician, anatomist and inventor of Plastination. In 1997, his wife, Dr. Angelina Whalley, began her role as managing director of the Institute.