Sunday, August 14, 2011


On our recent get away weekend we had an opportunity to see the Bodies Exhibit in Idaho Falls. For those who may not be familiar with it, it is an educational exhibit of actual human bodies and body parts that have been preserved in some very ingenious ways. One cadaver was sliced into sections about two inches thick from head to toe and then had each slice encased in plastic. They are arranged on a table with a couple inches between each slice so you can look very closely and every single segment of the body.

I especially liked the room that focused on the circulatory system. A special kind of plastic polymer was injected into the veins of a cadaver until every blood vessel from major veins and arteries all the way to the tiniest of capillaries was filled with the stuff. It hardens there and then a special chemical wash is used to eat away everything EXCEPT the polymer. So what you have left is a standing form of a human body that is ONLY the blood vessels. Completely fascinating.

I looked at kidneys and livers and lungs and hearts and brains.

I looked at skeletons, at intestines, at whole bodies standing erect (but cut cleanly in half vertically so you could see how certain inner parts fit.

I looked at human embryos in vials with each display one week older so you could get a glimpse of how the fetus develops.

These were not pictures or models or representations. These were actual human bodies that had been preserved in such a way that you could see how the various systems fit together, what each organ looked like, how big it was, where it was, and in a few cases (like the lungs) what they looked like when healthy and what they looked like when diseased. (I haven't smoked in 30 years, but if I did I would DEFINITELY be quitting after seeing THAT particular part of the display.)

When I first heard about this show many years ago in a conversation at my oldest brother's wedding reception I initially recoiled. I thought it was a ghoulish idea to even consider creating such a spectacle and I thought it was pretty twisted that people would pay money to go look at this stuff.

But since that time I have talked to several folks who had seen the show when it came to various parts of the country - Phoenix, Seattle, LA. EVERY single person I knew who had actually seen it raved about the experience and said it simply was something that should not be missed.

So I reconsidered my views. Then when I learned that the show was in Idaho Falls and we were going to be driving right past there on our way to the Bluegrass Festival in Alta, Wyoming, I decided it was worth a side trip.

I'm really glad we went.

I do understand why some people say "Ewww! Gross" and others genuinely find it to be depraved rather than a worthwhile educational presentation. But I've got to say, it gave me a renewed respect for this amazing machine that is the human body and perhaps even a bit more commitment to taking better care of my own.

So now I'm thinking about other things I might initially find repulsive or disgusting, scary or boring, or simply not worth my time and wondering if I might want to re-examine my pre-judgements. There are SOME things I really do not need to see to know I do not want those images in my brain. But I'm learning that there are time when it really does make sense to reconsider my point of view.

1 comment:

Kim and Victoria said...

Nice. At first it does sound repulsive, but I can see how interesting it was.

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