I was fortunate enough to witness the Body Worlds exhibit at The Denver Museum of Nature & Science yesterday.  All I can say is WOW, what an exhibit.  A Huge Thank you to Rhiannon Hendrickson, the Communications Manager for the Body Worlds exhibit.  She had contacted me and asked me if I would like to blog about the exhibit, and then she set it up for me to attend this one of a kind, Must see display of Human Art.

Yesterday morning, I had ran a 5K race in Longmont (Race report to follow), afterwards, I made my way to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.  After living in Colorado for 5 1/2 years, I’ve never been to the Museum, it has some great displays, and you are greeted by a pair of dinosaurs as you exit the parking garage.  Hanging outside the entrance is a banner for the Body Worlds Exhibit:

I soon picked up my press packet and ticket, Thanks for the book Rhiannon, I’m sure I’ll have hours and hours reading it from cover to cover.  Just flipping through the book, it is overflowing with pictures of the exhibits, the process of plastination, anatomy, and a lot more, that I’ll need to dwelve into.  Of course this book isn’t a substitution for exploring the exhibit, but it will further enhance the experience with more insight into how the exhibits were created, and there are more pictures of exhibits that weren’t at the Denver Museum.  Check out the book HERE. The Book online is the 2005 edition, the 2009 edition is available at the exhibit.

So, I then got my ticket and had about an hour until my alloted time, so I checked out some of the other great sights at the museum.  I brought along my Flat Stanley that I’m having tour around for a 2nd Grade class and got some great shots with mummies, mars rovers, wild life, caves, dinos, and more.  It was a fun way to build the excitement for the Body Worlds Exhibit.  Flat Stanley, even got a picture at the Body Worlds store 🙂

So, I lined up and we started to go into the exhibit.  The Denver Body Worlds is called the Story of the Heart.  My first experience into Body Worlds was the sound of the beating heart, rhythmic and steady, beating.  The room was bathed in red light, and then I saw my first experience of Body Worlds, the human heart.  It was the first time I’ve seen a heart other than on the TV.

I seemed to be mesmerized to it, and was drawn to it.  Maybe it was the mixture of senses of the beating and the red light, but I was amazed.  This organ pumps 1800 gallons of blood per day through the body, and that alone is amazing.  As with almost every organ exhibit, I was in awe at the number of blood vessels around the heart, I know they are there, but seeing it all together, it was something beautiful.  I’m going to give it a cool nickname, I think of the heart now as “The Coral of Life.”

The Heart. Gunther von Hagens' BODY WORLDS, Institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany, http://www.bodyworlds.com

After, I could be drawn away from “The Coral of Life”, I continued on to a few other displays, showing how much blood is pumped daily, and a fact that there are 60,000 miles of arteries, veins, & capillaries in the body.  It is amazing that everything fits together in the body.

The exhibit was broken down into whole body plastinates, organs, systems, reproductive, digestion, & skeletal.  The whole body displays were situated to fully capture the body in action.  Here is one of the displays called Limber Gymnist.  Not only does this display show the elegance of the body, but the complexity of the human organs.  There were many amazing full body displays like the praying skeleton, holding a heart while praying, The Archer, The Hurdeler, The Walker, the Juxtaposed Couple at the end was amazing.  There were many more, you will just need to see the exhibit to fully appreciate the work of art of the human body.

The Limber Gymnist with Organs. Gunther von Hagens' BODY WORLDS, Institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany, http://www.bodyworlds.com

The exhibit also had many organs on display, some healthy, some not so healthy.  Smoker’s lung, clogged arteries, diseased organs, even something called a “Smoker’s Leg” were on display, along with many others that you would just need to see to believe.  It just goes to show that so often we take for granted our bodies.  For smoking alone, each cigarette shortens a human life by a minute.  Each year 5.4 million people die from smoking alone, and smoking 20 cigarettes per day will produce 5 FL OZ of tar in one year.  Those statistics are tough to look at, and know that they could be prevented.

The exhibit also showed the reproductive system and chronicled the journey of life through childbirth.  It is truly amazing how the human body is developed and how quickly life is brought into the world.  The complexities of the human body and how all systems work as a team is a miracle in itself.  The whole Body Worlds Exhibit brings all of this together, the journey of life, the importance of caring for the body, the effects of poor treatment, the gracefulness of the body, the complexity, & the art.  When we stop to think about this gift of life we are given, it opens our eyes to what are we doing with this gift.

There was a cross section of an obese man at 300 pounds.  you could see that fat encased the whole body and was pressing on all of the internal organs.  The man in the exhibit died at 50 due to heart failure.  Obesity increases the risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, stroke, and some forms of cancer.  Just seeing this display was making people realize what we do to our bodies and how some of our actions and choices directly impact the quality of our life.

Here is a body scan of a 250 pound woman next to a 120 pound woman to give an idea of how obesity is affecting us.  Check out The New Wellness website for the story.

Body Scan of a 250 pound woman and 120 pound woman.

I heard people saying, I wish this person could see this exhibit, or I wish I could show the smoker’s lung to my dad.  The body Worlds exhibit is truly a journey into self awareness.  So many people know that their actions are bad, but when you see it in person and witness the effects, it brings it home and makes it more real.

Body Worlds also showed some of the ways that we can survive as humans by utilizing science.  There were a few artificial organs along with videos showing how they worked and how they helped people live.  It was very interesting to see these pieces of equipment, working as a human organ and sustaining life.

The exhibit was created by Dr Gunther Von Hagens, he invented Plastination back in 1977 to preserve anatomical specimens.   The book goes over the process, so I will need to read up on it.  It does say that the process for an entire body is about 8 steps and takes 1,500 working hours and about a year to complete.  This is a painstaking process that produces amazing results.

Dr Von Hagens with Rearing Horse with Rider. Gunther von Hagens, Institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany, http://www.bodyworlds.com.

“BODY WORLDS teaches visitors about the fragility and importance of the body and makes people aware of their own mortality. To my surprise, it also inadvertently inspires religious and philosophical reflection and insights” ~ Dr. Von Hagens.

As the people say, it is an experience for young and old alike.  You never know what you are going to see next.  To see the human body in all of its splendor and awesomeness is a real treat.  If you get a chance to see this exhibit, I highly recommend seeing it and experiencing it for yourself.  It will open your eyes to the human body and bring textbooks alive.  Seeing the human body in this way makes you want to take better care of it.  How all of the different systems work together in accordance is like a symphony.  Each part of the body plays it’s part and makes it’s own music, but when it all comes together it is a real marvel for all of the senses.

If Body Worlds comes to your city, I highly recommend going and experiencing it for yourself.  If you can’t make it, the book HERE is a great overview of the exhibit with some of the behind the scenes action of how plastination takes place and is a great book to relive the experience and heighten the enjoyment of it.

As a runner, it was amazing to see all of the muscles working together and to learn more about how everything works.  This exhibit also had an exhibit showing an action that most of us take for granted, walking.  It showed just how much goes into some of the actions that we don’t think twice about.  It makes those athletic feats of marathons, Ultra Marathons, & Triathalons that more grandoise.  To think of the amount of blood that is pumped through the body during exercise and how it finds it’s way to all of the right locations to sustain the body is amazing.  Pro Athletes actually pump 17 pints per minute whereas someone with “ordinary” fitness pumps about 11 – 13 pints per minute.

After exiting the exhibit, there is more information on if you want to donate your body to plastination, so here is the LINK with more info.

Throughout the Body Worlds Exhibit was not only great information, statistics, instructional videos, and displays that were beyond words, there were also moving quotes.  I finish this entry with the final quote next to the last display the Juxtaposed Couple.

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Have a great day, and take care of your body and it will take care of you.