The German creator of the "Body Worlds" shows currently on tour in Asia, Europe and the United States opened a new factory in the former East German city of Guben on Thursday, where visitors can watch corpses being preserved.

Gunter von Hagens' newest addition to his displays of preserved human and animal bodies and organs, which have attracted more than 20 million viewers around the globe, is aimed at offering the public what he calls a unique view of the preservation process, called "plastination."

Von Hagens, who has faced ongoing criticism in his home country, has said he plans to invest at least $4.5 million to convert a former woolen factory, creating 200 jobs over five years.

A group of 20 protesters demonstrated against the new "Plastinarium" at its opening on Thursday.

"Mr. von Hagens is breaking known taboos and making money at it," said Michael Domke, a Roman Catholic priest, who was among the protesters.

But Klaus-Dieter Huebner, Guben's mayor, welcomed the new factory, saying it would help the economic situation of the depressed town, about 80 miles southeast of Berlin.

Plastination preserves the corpses by replacing body fluids with liquid plastic. The plastic is hardened, leaving tissues intact. Bodies can then be displayed without formaldehyde or glass containers, so onlookers can come within inches of exposed organs.

The factory is open to the public Fridays to Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for adults, and $8 for children, seniors and students.