The much anticipated Body Worlds exhibit opened this weekend at the Maryland Science Center, and we got one of the first looks at what all the hubbub is really all about.
Body Worlds is a scientific exhibit aimed at educating individuals on how the body really works. Visitors get a look at the body in a way never shown before, as full human bodies have been preserved in a way that lets us examine what goes on underneath the skin’s surface. Through a process called plastination, which involves injecting plastic resin into the body’s cells, the bodies have been preserved with almost no decomposition at all, allowing an all access view into what your muscles, organs, and tendons really look like. The bodies that are on display are real – these are no plaster molds like the dinosaurs you see – these are actual human bodies which have been donated to science for such an educational purpose.
The exhibit was very educational to say the least. Getting to see how your muscles work while swinging a baseball bat or even just walking, was very interesting. It was fascinating to see the actual organs that make up our bodies, and to see that something so small and gooey really has the power to do all the things our organs do. The exhibit also highlights the differences between healthy human organs, and ones that have been damaged by disease or trauma. Seeing a healthy lung compared to those of a smoker’s lungs and those of a coal miner’s lungs will really shock and disturb you. And after seeing the damage that fatty foods can do to your arteries you might just think twice about ordering that bacon cheeseburger you like so much. Also included in the exhibit was extensive information about different parts of the human psyche. Interesting facts about dreams, the emotion of love, and the feelings that result in teenage angst, were displayed on the walls of the exhibit, giving a new look at human behavior.
A great portion of the exhibit was also dedicated to the human brain. Several models were displayed showing the different levels of our brain structure. There were also several models to compare including a child’s brain, a full-grown adult brain, and one suffering from Alzheimer’s. An auditory tour that you can listen to which explains everything you are seeing is also available, but it costs $5 for the headphones so you may want to skip this feature. One of the great things about the exhibit was that there were several doctors on hand to discuss the things you were seeing and to answer any questions you may have. (Though we hear the weekend is the best time to find these experts.)
Though very educational, this exhibit will shock you. At least for us, parts of it were a little sad and disturbing. Knowing that these models were actual human bodies made it all a little sad as we thought about the lives these people must have led. One part of the exhibit in particular tugged at our hearstrings – the infancy and pregnancy section. This section is tucked away, and we actually think a lot of people missed it, and though extremely interesting, this section might make you a bit uncomfortable as it contains unborn babies whose potential lives had been cut short. Also, we have pretty weak stomachs, and by the end were a bit queasy after seeing all the displays (though our companions on the trip were in no way affected which made us feel a little bit silly.) Also, as all the models are anatomically correct, this exhibit should be taken as a mature educational experience.
Though maybe not for everyone, this exhibit is defintely one worth checking out. (And now you have an excuse to go to the Maryland Science Center and relive the days of childhood with all the interactive exhibits already there. Who doesn’t love making a water vortex or creating your own dinosaur?)