Hello Friends and Family,

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Body Worlds

WOW! This week I went to the BODY WORLDS exhibition at the Arizona Science Center. For those who do not know about this exhibition, it displays actual human bodies (deceased, of course) in various life-like poses, mostly athletic. From their web description — “The BODY WORLDS exhibitions are first-of-their-kind exhibitions through which visitors learn about anatomy, physiology, and health by viewing real human bodies, using an extraordinary process called Plastination a ground-breaking method for specimen preservation invented by Dr. von Hagens in 1977.”

Note that no photography was allowed, so these images are all from the Internet.

Some people might say this sound a bit macabre but it really is not — it was done very tastefully. When I first heard of the exhibits, I had mixed feelings. However, one of the people whom I met at the Santa Fe Workshops had seen it in Denver and recommended it highly. So when I read that it was coming to Phoenix, I put it on my “must-see” list.

First, you should know that all the bodies on display were donated by the living person before their death. Most of the bodies have the skin removed so you can see the muscles, bones, nerves and organs. Some of the bodies had muscles removed or splayed open so you could see the underlying tissues, bones and/or organs.

For example, the skateboarder shows the muscles involved when one does a handstand from the skateboard while holding the board with the other hand to keep it from flying away. I have to confess that I have never become acquainted with a skateboard, so I’ll take their word for the muscles involved.

Similarly, the dancer shows the athleticism involved in that activity. (In the interests of full disclosure, the exhibit in Phoenix had the hurdler which is similar to the dancer but I could not find the hurdler photo online.)

The image of a person holding his own skin was quite interesting since the skin is the largest organ of the human body (previous trivia question). Also on display was artwork such the accompanying drawing of the same subject.

One factoid that I learned from the wall displays was that during the Middle Ages and Renaissance that the well-to-do would pay to observe a human dissection. As European civilization moved from medical arts to medical science, that practice was discontinued. Thus, this exhibit allows the layperson to see anatomy in a way that today only surgeons and medical students do.

Also on display were human organs — both normal and diseased. I gained a bit of an understanding of why my knees might ache after years and years of running/jogging — with the pits and bumps on those bones as a result of wear. Very dramatic was the display of a healthy lung next to a smoker’s lung — I thought the smoker’s lung looked like Darth Vader’s helmet. You might conclude that image would make any smoker kick the habit.

On a personal level, these displays really hit home when I came across the preserved ovaries of a woman who had ovarian tumors as a precursor to ovarian cancer — the disease that took Kona's life.

There were also preserved slices of organs and whole bodies — both normal and diseased. The one I thought stood out was the slice of an obese person — showing how the fat distorted the internal organs.

I was talking to one of the personal trainers at Lifetime Fitness and it turns out that they went to the exhibit as a group. All he could say was “awesome!” And I echo that sentiment. If you live in a city where the exhibition is open or a city where it is coming — GO! Like Marcus said, “awesome!”


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com