Body Worlds exhibit

I took today off from work to visit the Body Worlds show at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago; this is a very cool show! I had a little worry that the exhibit might be too weird but it was really neat. The show is work by Gunther von Hagens, and its human (and one horse) bodies that have been embalmed in plastic. Here’s the brochure for the show:

I bought two postcards from the show along with the DVD; I will try to grab a couple more stills from the DVD when I
have some time, but for now….

I hope that second one has all you cigarette smokers thinking – they have a normal lung and a smoker’s lung on

The coolest plastination (using plastic to embalm a body) is of a woman that willed her body to the artist when she was 8 months pregnant and had learned that she and her baby were likely to die; they did and she is now embalmed in plastic with her womb open so you can see how the baby pushes all the internal organs up inside a woman. There were also a number of plasticised embryos; the show states that none were taken by choice by the way.

To quote the aim of the exhibit (taken from the web site for Body Worlds):

“The primary goal of BODY WORLDS and BODY WORLDS 2 is health education. On the one hand, 180 individual specimens are used to compare healthy and diseased organs, e.g., a healthy lung with that of a smoker, to emphasize the importance of a healthy life-style. On the other hand, 20 life-like posed whole-body plastinates illustrate where in our bodies these organs are positioned and what we are: naturally fragile in a mechanized world.”

Thus, the exhibitions, targeted mainly at a lay audience, open up the opportunity to better understand the human body and its functions. They help the visitors to once again become aware of the naturalness of their bodies and to recognize the individuality and anatomical beauty inside them. The authenticity of the specimens on display is essential for such insight. Every human being is unique. Humans reveal their individuality not only through the visible exterior, but also through the interior of their bodies, as each body is distinctly different from any other. Position, size, shape, and structure of skeleton, muscles, nerves, and organs determine our “interior face.” It would be impossible to convey this anatomical individuality with models for a model is nothing more than an interpretation. All models look alike and are, essentially, simplified versions of the real thing. The authenticity of the specimens, however, is fascinating and enables the observer to experience the marvel of the real human being. The exhibitions are thus dedicated to the individual interior face.”

This is a must see exhibit; I hope to go at least one more time, maybe twice. The show will continue traveling after it leaves Chicago on September 5, 2005.


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