10 July 2007

The Bodies Exhibit

Let me start off by saying WOW! Tim and I have been wanting to see this exhibit for a while now, ever since we missed out on seeing the cadaver cross-sections at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Don't think it's crass that we wanted to see cadavers - because deep down inside yourself, I bet you want to see one too reader. Don't lie.

(This is a picture of Andy in front of the museum. Remember what I said about how great little brothers are? That they will strike a pose on command? Isn't he cute? This is his Marilyn Monroe face.)

Well, we went to see the exhibit on Saturday afternoon, down at the South Street Seaport. Andy met up with us and had dinner with us afterward (we had hamburgers right after we saw the exhibit... not too wise a choice).

Anyway, the exhibit starts off easy with an array of bones and cross-sections of bones. It then progresses into muscles and then to the circulatory system and onward. The exhibit uses human remains preserved through a polymer preservation process that shows the complete body, including the internal anatomy. The laboratories prepared the skinned bodies and body parts with “plastination”, a process where body water and fats are replaced with liquid silicone rubber. It's crazy. The parts look so real that they actually look fake (if that makes sense). Well, actually the muscles look a bit like beef jerky and the organs are more pallid than their fresh counterparts (so I hear) but retain the exact shape and size they did in real life. And they'll probably stay that way for centuries. There is no odor. One thing that bugged us was the fact that some of the bodies were a bit dusty. That was kind of creepy.

There were bodies posed in different positions so you could see how the muscles all work together, there were bodies standing upright in various cross-sections, there were different organs in glass cases, and there was a really cool exhibit of veins and arteries that were injected with some type of red dye that hardened and left their intricate framework all together. That was probably my favorite part of the exhibit. It was incredible to see the shape of a man in just his intricate array of ruby red veins. That was more like art than science. And that is really how I felt for most of the exhibit.

My highlights (or maybe I should say the most memorable because some of these scared the willies out of me...) were: the flap of skin tattoo in a glass case (freaky), the cross-sections of brains that suffered from stoke (VERY scary), the array of fetuses ranging from conception to birth (how absolutely incredible human beings are... at 9 weeks, we already look like little people!), the uterus that had the rare tissue growth disorder that grew teeth and hair (good. lord.), the giant toe, the complete nervous system with the optical nerves and EVERYTHING, the entropic birth (where the fetus gets stuck in the fallopian tube and ends up killing both mother and child - wow scary), and my least favorite - the cross-section of the overweight woman. Andy and Tim's least favorite part was the cancerous penis. It's one thing to see this kind of stuff in a medical book. Seeing in real life, actual former people, it is beyond memorable... it's mind-blowing.

Oh, and just as you are leaving the exhibit, don't forget to check out the information desk. They have all kinds of organs on the table to look at and to touch. Yeah. I was watching someone else holding an organ, and so I picked up a brain. I told Andy to pick up the heart. He was like "Eww, no way." And so I called him a chicken. Then I told him that they weren't real. The lady behind the desk informed me that they were, in fact, real organs. I think I turned a couple of shades of gray as I proceeded to put the brain back where I found it and look for the nearest water faucet to wash my hands.

So yeah, right now I'm feeling really heavy. I'm contemplating life, mortality, and display cases.

4 comments:

Christie said...

I must admit I've been interested in seeing the exhibit. I'm just afraid I couldn't stomach it right now - and that would just be a waste. I'm glad you guys had a great time. Wishing I could come see you.

Jennifer said...

Actually, that sounds really fascinating...I've always been interested in human anatomy and in kind of morbid stuff, and that exhibit sounds like a good combination of the two :) Loved the pictures, especially the ones of you and your bunch :)

It's a FLIP-FLOP World said...

Suzi, really a neat thing to go do. While you are living in a place like New York you and Tim should take advantage of things like this. Someday you might not live where you can go and see these neat things. I would like to go see this. I would EAT first though. Sandy

chad. said...

I got to see the exhibit in Atlanta last summer. I agree that it is simultaneously amazing and freakin' weird. I'm glad you guys got to go. I hope everything is going well!

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