Saturday, March 10, 2007

Bodies: The Exhibition

I didn't make it to Bodies: The Exhibition on my last trip to New York, so I made it a point to check it out this trip. I think the Wikipedia entry best describes it:

"BODIES... The Exhibition" is a controversial exhibit currently showing in Orlando, New York City, Las Vegas, Miami, Amsterdam, and Seattle (with previous showings in Tampa and other cities) showcasing preserved human bodies dissected to display bodily systems.

The museum is set up so that one starts at the skeletal system, and more layers (muscular, nervous, circulatory, digestive, respiratory, urinary, and reproductive systems; as well as fetal development and the treated body) are added in succesive rooms. Containing about twenty bodies in total, each exhibition uses real human bodies that have been preserved permanently by a process called "polymer preservation" so that they will not decay. This exhibition is organized by the publicly traded corporation, Premier Exhibitions Incorporated.

Some of the specimens are arranged so that they are performing activities such as playing basketball or conducting an orchestra. Along the way are other displays showing a human intestine stretched out, the polluted lung of a smoker, and all of the arteries and veins without the body itself. One section includes several fetuses in various stages of development. All of the fetuses died due to miscarriages.

All of the bodies were either unclaimed, unidentified, or donated to science, and obtained through the Dalian Medical University Plastination Laboratories in China.

Mary saw it with her boyfriend in Las Vegas, and I learned that there was an exhibition in New York City while listening to Opie & Anthony a few weeks ago.

I already knew most of the biology that the you're taught as you walk through the exhibition. What was amazing were the cross sectional exhibits: there is a man whose cut down the middle across his body, and his front skin is separate from his front skeleton, then his organs, then his rear skeleton and his rear skin. Another shows a woman who is cut in half down the middle, and what organs are on the right versus on the left.

Amazing also were the plastinations of blood vessles: in a case were all the arteries and veins of the lungs, liver, arms, legs, kidneys, and entire body. There were all kinds of diseased lungs, hearts, etc. I really liked the preservation of all the fetuses, including those with birth defects. There was one of the abdomen of a woman with the fetus inside. An Arab man and his girlfriend chose to skip that exhibit (as the sign on the wall suggests you consider before moving in that room). The plastinized vaginas looked too much like a pocket pussy.

There is this controversy about where the bodies came from, and how the owner of the exhibition is a for-profit company. The offset to that, which I didn't like, was the preachy way it tries to get you to live better and not be shocked on your own. Next to the diseased lungs is a box where you can throw your cigarettes into. There is a full sized preservation of a big fat woman in cross sections so you can see all her fatty-fatty and think to your fat self "shit, I need to go on a diet". People don't need to be prompted, we know you're a bunch of whores.

At the same time, I went through the whole exhibition in 40 minutes. At $27.50 for adults, I thought it was a little pricey. For a few bucks more, an Asian massage parlor could have given my body an oily exhibition.

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