Reviewed Tiffany Markman, mom to a two-year-old, tries to balance her workaholism with cuddling her daughter, reading books, consuming caffeine & reining in her intrinsic kugelry. Follow her on twitter.
BODY WORLDS, in theory, is just my sort of thing. Firstly, I really like guts and gore. Houses of horror and stuff. Secondly, I’ve always wanted to know what the inside of the human body looks like. So whether or not to go was a no-brainer for me.
The question was: should I or shouldn’t I take my two-year old along?
I decided to take her, largely because – even if it did turn out to be gross – she’d probably not catch onto the fact that the bodies are real and not ‘dollies’.
Then a couple of people told me they were going but leaving their pre-teens at home, which shocked me. Aren’t those the kids who, studying health sciences and biology at school, should be going to BODY WORLDS, more than anyone else?
Off we went. Here’s the stuff you should know: GO. Take your kids. Here’s why:
What’s it about?
BODY WORLDS, the first anatomical exhibition to display real human bodies, presents specimens that are real and preserved through plastination, a revolutionary preservation technique invented by Dr Gunther von Hagens in 1977.
Referred to as ‘plastinates’, the bodies have had their skin removed to give us a realistic and authentic look at how the human body actually works. You’ll see stuff you’ve never seen before and can’t see anywhere else. It’s just amazing.
Bodies? From where?
All BODY WORLDS exhibitions are based on a body donation programme through which the donors request that their bodies be used in a public exhibition after death.
The models don’t look as ‘plastic’ as I’d anticipated. For me, the bodies (particularly the muscles, tendons, bones, and internal organs) seemed totally authentic. The nerves and blood vessels didn’t, primarily because they are both so utterly beautiful. And the preserved fetuses in the conception section are mind-blowing.
None of it is gross. There’s no gore or blood. And the kids – of which there seemed to be hundreds, ranging in age from mine at two, through the fives and sixes, to pre-teens and teens – were fascinated: “Daddy, is that a boy or a girl?”; “Mom, is that lung like Uncle Craig’s?” [I guess Uncle Craig is a smoker…]; “Wow! Is that a brain?”
Note: There is only one model with skin – a fat guy, with his head sliced in half. A bit freaky, but not terrible. There is only one age-restricted exhibit – a couple in flagrante, in a separate area. The rest is very scientific and suitable, I think, for most ages.
How does it feel?
It’s all so interesting. I was surprised by the kidneys (they’re tiny), the liver (it’s huge), the stomach (I definitely eat too much); the intestines (there’s so much of them!), the ovaries (they’re miniscule), and how repugnant and pervasive human fat is.
I was a bit annoyed by what felt like nannyish health messaging in parts, relating to healthy eating, safe sex, good posture and exercise, but if BODY WORLDS is ultimately about health education (so says the media pack) that’s to be expected.
Navigating a pram around without driving over people’s feet and bumping into things is awkward if there’s a crowd. So leave your littlie at home and take kids aged 4+.
One more thing
There are audio guides available at a small fee, and they’re totally worth it. If you listen to/read everything available, give yourself 90-120 minutes. If you amble through with kids, occasionally listening to the audio, you’ll need 60-90 minutes.