I went to the Body Worlds 2 exhibit today with KL, a fellow nursing student and fundus-chop joke maker. It was by far the best use of money ever.
We got to the exhibit at the Maryland Science Center around noon, and parked in a lot that charged an exorbitant amount of money. Alas, I'd rather pay parking fees than come back to find my car up on blocks from the hooligans in Baltimore.
I got scared when we walked up to the building (covered with an enormous picture of this guy to the left). Not because of the picture but because of the fifty thousand field-trip kids running around outside. I put a mean face on, and they stayed away from me. If you don't already know, I strongly dislike kids of any age unless I know them and they aren't jackasses. (Sick kids don't count...unless they are just brats.) Once we got inside and bought our ticket, I realized there weren't any kids in the Body Worlds portion of the science center, so I felt much better about things.
I could write for hours on how amazing this exhibit was. But I'll spare you and just hit the high points...
There were dozens and dozens of specimens, from all different body systems. There were brains, brains with hemorrhagic strokes visible, CNS and PNS pieces, healthy lungs, smoker's lungs, and coal miner's black lungs. There were healthy aortas, arteriosclerosis aortas, AAA aortas, and plenty of hearts. I saw reproductive systems, urinary systems, and every other system possible. If you could think of an organ, I probably saw it.
While these were all cool, even cooler were the "slices" of body. These were like cross-sections, and they ranged from slices of brain to thoracic cavity to whole person. The whole-body slices were amazing, because some were an inch or so thick and allowed for organs to be kept intact while sectioning out the overall body. It's like looking at a CT scan...except it's a body. Right in front of you.
But clearly the slices aren't what we came for; let's be real. We wanted to see whole plastinated bodies. And we did. And they were amazing. These bodies were positioned in ways that would highlight certain muscle groups, skeletal structure, organs, or nervous system structures. I can't even begin to describe how amazing it was to be nose-to-nose with a real body. I could lean in and see exactly what a muscle looked like. I could see how every joint was held together, how every muscle attached to something, how each part had it's place. There were some bodies positioned in athletic poses, which only emphasized how amazing the human body really is. Every single body was posed to show something different, and I gained something from every one.
There have been criticisms of this exhibit from many different people, but I found it to be a wonderfully classy display of the amazing human body. We are so delicate, but so tough. We are so perfect, but prone to so many imperfections. We are born relatively healthy, but we tend to disrupt that. We are so frail, but able to do so many things. In short, our bodies are amazingly glorious creations and this is the first time I've ever been able to look under my skin and see myself. Through all the skin and hair and outside persona, we are each made of thousands of moving parts which intertwine so perfectly together. While I did dissect a cadaver last year, it became clear that we did a bang-up job and came nowhere close to showcasing the true beauty of the human body.
I believe in Christ as my creator and designer, but even if you hold a different view the bodies were no less amazing. I am so glad I had the chance to see these bodies through all the different perspectives offered: I saw an educational anatomy exhibit. I saw a humbling lesson in how powerful my God is in creating something so intricate. I saw an artistically beautiful display of what could have been a highly offensive subject matter. And I saw the selfless gift of self when I learned how each person consciously committed to donating their bodies after death to this institution. Whatever objections you have to this exhibit, I would highly encourage you to rethink them. It was beautiful. That might sound ridiculous, but it's the only word I can think of to even suggest how I saw it.
In summary, this is the best $23 ticket I've ever bought - hands down, no lie.
Pictures are borrowed from the Body Worlds website, which happens to be www.bodyworlds.com.en. You should all go check it out. Don't forget to give some mental props to the creator, Gunther von Hagens. And then you should drive yourself to the Baltimore Inner Harbor, park yourself in the very expensive parking lot, buy yourself a ticket at the Maryland Science Center, and go see this wonder for yourself. Then you'll see why I've been rambling.