Man, 50, held over attack on exhibition of corpses

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A man aged 50 was arrested yesterday for allegedly attacking an exhibit with a hammer at a controversial exhibition of preserved corpses in London.

A man aged 50 was arrested yesterday for allegedly attacking an exhibit with a hammer at a controversial exhibition of preserved corpses in London.

Damage valued at £30,000 was caused to "The Organ Presenter", which shows a man holding his own liver. The display was knocked off its pedestal during the attack and some parts broke off.

The attack happened three days after the exhibition opened at the Atlantis Gallery, in Brick Lane, east London. On Saturday, a protester threw a blanket over the preserved corpse of a pregnant woman and tossed paint across the floor. Officials said there was no link between the two incidents.

Body Worlds, which features skinless and dissected bodies in a preserved state, has already attracted strong criticism, along with more than eight million people to gallieries in Japan, Austria, Switzerland and Germany. The Roman Catholic Church has also denounced the anatomically explicit display.

However, the exhibition's creator, the German anatomist Dr Gunther von Hagens, said despite the opposition, yesterday's attack was the first time a display had been badly damaged.m He insisted that the exhibition was not macabre, but a display of "the beautiful interior of the body".

The display features 175 body parts and 25 corpses in various poses, which have all been donated by volunteers. A last-minute ruling by the Department of Health decided the organisers did not need to be granted a licence under the Anatomy Act.

The arrested man was being detained at an east London police station for alleged criminal damage after being held by security officers at the gallery yesterday afternoon.