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Thread: Body Worlds

  1. #1
    Lover of Mountains nightsky's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Body Worlds

    Has anyone else seen these exhibits? For those who may not have heard of it, it's a traveling exhibit (actually a few different exhibits tour the world simultaneously) of bodies, body parts, organs, etc, plastinated and posed and displayed. After wanting to see this for many years, I finally went to one today. It was pricey, but completely worth it. I've always been interested in anything medical related, anatomy, physiology, and just science in general. So mainly, I went to learn and be educated. I have seen cadavers before during college anatomy classes, but to see the body displayed and dissected these ways was amazing. I was surprised by the 'artistic' qualities a lot of the exhibit pieces also have.

    This exhibit focused on the heart and circulatory system. So there were many displays of the circulatory system preserved, with the remainder of the body gone. The result is a fascinating display of thousands of vessels in pose, in the shape of the body they once kept alive. It's beautiful, yet strange, to know that was once a living person. And also, it's very interesting and I found the whole experience profoundly educational. I was told it would take about two hours to see the whole exhibit, but it took me 3.5 hours. I read every little tidbit of info, and really studied every exhibit.

    They also the other body systems on display, and had displays of different organs/systems that were both healthy, and then those that were diseased or defective. They also had a few animals on display ( a chicken, lamb, adult and small camels, etc.) My wife had a hard time with the embryo/fetus display. I personally wasn't disturbed by any of it, but it does make one ponder the fragility of our life, and certainly makes one ponder mortality. It also reinforced wanting to be healthy (not that I'm not already). Seeing obese bodies, diseased lungs, hearts, burst arteries, brains with massive strokes, bloated hearts, etc made it 'more real' than just reading about it. I noticed especially at the 'smoking/emphysema' exhibit that several visitors commented they would immediately give up smoking after seeing what it does!

    One thing I wish they would have done: Told the history of each person, how they died, and what age they were. It was odd looking at a person posed and split open, but having no idea of the 'person' you were looking at. I would have loved some background on them.

    Anyway - if you haven't seen this and it comes to a museum near you, go see it! I cannot recommend it enough.

    Here's the main site:
    www.bodyworlds.com

    Picture database:
    http://www.bodyworlds.com/en/media/p..._database.html

    No photos were allowed unfortunately. But pictures don't do them justice anyway.

    This page has a video that will load at the top - just give it a minute and it will come on automatically:
    http://theleonardo.org/bodyworlds/index.php

  2. #2
    Your one and only pest! Ant's Avatar
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    I saw that last year! It was pretty cool, they have these slides of a human body cut into thin sheets! You will love it as long as preserved dead bodies aren't on the list of things that make you puke.

  3. #3
    swords's Avatar
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    That was the single most stunning exhibit I've ever seen! I loved it!

    I took my little 11 year old cousin cos she wanted to see it but my aunt is rather squeamish about stuff like that. She was an EMT for a about 10 years (before going back to plant leasing and service) so I don't know why this exhibit bugged her so much. Maybe if you're busy saving someone's life you don't have time to think about what you're seeing and get grossed out? I never thought to probe as to why she didn't wanna see it. The Buddhists at work freaked out when the company hung up the full color poster advertisement for it (our company ID gets us a discount if we show it the museum).

    As an artist I find anatomy fascinating. And this exhibit goes far beyond what I've learned about musculature in books and anatomical software. There's just no comparison. I had meant to go back by myself and take pics and try some "life drawings" when the kid wasn't with but I never got back to the museum.

    I've seen a documentary about this which showed that in either Germany or The Netherlands they have a permanent museum of this stuff that was done back in the 1800s by some unknown process. And it's not just humans but also: horses, elephants, apes, etc. I'd be stoked to spend a day there!

  4. #4
    herenorthere's Avatar
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    There are serious questions about the origin of the bodies and it isn't something the promoters are keen to talk about. If they even know the answer. It's enough to say that the people are Chinese and how they came to be dead and end up on display is unknown to us. Since I'm a grad student at a medical center, I know people who went to see one of the exhibits out of "professional" interest. A couple other people I know who went to see it said it was because of their interest in science, but they're more creepy than scientific. I think the whole thing is horrifying and wasn't willing to support it.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

  5. #5
    scottychaos's Avatar
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    It was here in Rochester last year..
    I didnt go..

    I think its repulsive..
    if it was plastic models of bodies, that would be fine..
    but the fact that its real bodies really creeps me out..

    and yes, there has been much controversy about where the bodies came from..
    it might not be all legit..

    Every american highschool science classroom in the 1940's-1970's had a human skeleton on display,
    for educational purposes..
    what many people didnt know was they were all REAL human skeletons..
    thousands of them all across the country..
    they were all from India, acquired under questionable circumstances..
    I dont think any are left in classrooms today..

    I have no problem with people donating their bodies to science..
    thats all well and good..I would even consider that myself!
    I wont need my body once im done with it..

    but I find it wrong that someone's mother or father might be on display, all cut up and flayed open,
    for thousands of people to view...when the body perhaps was not acquired morally or legitimately..

    Scot

  6. #6
    BigBella's Avatar
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    I managed to see that exhibit in San Francisco a few years back, though I think it was one of the original promoter's now-many competitors; and they had a row with the Department of Health at the time when preservative "materials" from some of the bodies began to leak in the exhibit space . . .

    Nice . . .
    “Sì perché l'autorità dell'opinione di mille nelle scienze non val per una scintilla di ragione di un solo . . ."

    -- Galileo "Biff" Galilei

  7. #7
    白人看不懂 Drosera36's Avatar
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    My mom is in cultural anthropology and she's been writing all these papers on this stuff, and she's really against it.

    I think she said that the bodies were from dead Chinese prisoners. I think it's sick how they take these bodies and put them on display; those people are freaks.

    -Ben
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    I saw something like this at some point, but all of the bodies were made out of wax. I think they were old anatomy school specimens from who knows when.

    As for these exhibits if they are using bodies that were not specifically donated to science by the individual who is on display then I have to agree with Drosera36's mother and say I am against them and would urge people to not support these exhibits.

    Out of curiosity Drosera, is your mother a well know published anthropologist? I only ask because I am a grad student in anthropology now and wonder if I have read anything of hers.
    "We're terrible animals. I think that the Earth's immune system is trying to get rid of us, as well it should." - Kurt Vonnegut

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