Yesterday I had the opportunity to go see BodyWorlds 2 at the Museum of Science! I usually try to avoid viewing the sequel before seeing the original, but in this case it turns out you can pick up on the plot pretty quickly without missing much. So it was more like Evil Dead 2 than, say, Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers, which might have been a bit confusing had you not seen the first one or at least read the book or something.
But I digress. BodyWorlds is a traveling exhibit that shows real
live dead people stripped down to their bones or organs. Not only do these bodies show you exactly how your guts work, but they’re also arranged in artistic poses to best emphasize certain parts of the body, such as specific muscle groups.
It’s not for the faint of heart (so to speak), since some displays are rather gruesome and even the most seemingly basic display is given a particular melancholy note when you repeatedly realize that these are the bodies of real people who were once walking around staring at things just like you are. Of course, this reverence for the deceased cannot possibly stop all the morbid jokes that will occur to you throughout your visit. My personal favorite came at the very beginning, when my friends and I came across the skull of an infant. One friend said, “Wow, that’s an ugly skull. Babies look a lot cuter with their skin on.” I replied, “Someone had better let Anne Geddes know, quick.” Sadly, no one else had any clue who Anne Geddes is. (The runner-up joke came a bit later, and was simply, “Oh, he’s an outtie.” This got a much better reaction.)
The corpses have been “Plastinated” by Gunther Von Hagens’ laboratory. According to the official BodyWorlds site, Von Hagens invented the amazing process by which a body is perfectly preserved by sucking out all the water and replacing it with a polymer. That’s the short version — for the longer version, I suggest you visit the site yourself.
There are currently three touring BodyWorlds exhibits, and I suggest that if you live in or around Boston, St. Paul, or Vancouver, check it out.