Scientific exhibitions often take visitors flying through outer space, back to the Stone Age, and deep into the rainforest. Currently on display in Tulsa, Bodies: The Exhibition provides a tour of the phenomenon of the human body.
The exhibition, which opened locally at the end of October, is divided into nine categories comprised of the eight systems of the body as well as a final segment called The Treated Body. This area showcases how, through science, doctors are becoming increasingly able to heal disease and abnormalities resulting in longer life expectancies for people today.
One doesn't need a medical degree to appreciate this exhibit as it visually explains what doctors and scientists are taught to understand. Bodies: The Exhibition premiered in 2004 in England. Since then, it has traveled to countless cities around the world and has been experienced by more that 15 million people.
The eight systems of the body in order of appearance throughout the exhibit are: the skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, urinary, reproductive and fetal development and circulatory systems. Docents with extensive knowledge of the human anatomy are available to provide supplemental information as well as answer questions about the astonishing displays visitors encounter.
While controversial for many, what truly makes this exhibition a masterpiece are the authentic human bodies used to expose the various body systems in all of the displays. The full body specimens used in the exhibition all died of natural causes and, after remaining unclaimed, were delivered to a medical school for research and education purposes, as is the legal obligation in China, where the bodies originated. The specimens have been preserved through the process of polymer preservation that draws all of the water out of the body then covers the organs with liquid rubber silicon. This sophisticated process leaves the body odorless, permanently preserved, and functioning as if made of rubber.
One of the most striking displays is found in the circulatory room. Highly artistic in its aesthetic presentation, this portion of the exhibition features enhanced coloring of arteries with different colored polymer, held together with corrosion casting. The surrounding tissue has been chemically dissolved leaving highly intricate sculptures of the arteries and tiny capillaries that surround body parts such as the stomach, face and limbs.
The show-stopper of any exhibit has a few "Caution Before Entering" signs. Such a warning exists just outside the entrance of the Fetal Development Room. This display offers viewers a look at unborn embryos and fetuses that died due to complications during the mothers' pregnancy. Among the unforgettable displays in this room are two fetuses, one at eleven weeks and one and sixteen weeks, still attached with the placenta. Even more amazing is a series of five jars containing a tiny embryo preserved at four, five, six, seven, and eight weeks. Throughout the history of Bodies this portion of the exhibition has been accompanied by the most protest and controversy. According to the Tulsa exhibition's supervisor, Alfonso Giansanti, there has been no controversy in Tulsa and visitors often remember the Fetal Development Room as the highlight of the exhibition.
Equally uncomfortable, yet for different reasons, is the set of black lungs once belonging to a smoker on display in the Respiratory Room. The discolored and diseased lungs contrasted to the healthy lungs of a non-smoker and partnered with the fact, 'On average, a pack of cigarettes take three hours and forty minutes off your life,' sends a strong warning.
Chief medical director for Bodies, Dr. Roy Glover, has stated, "seeing promotes understanding, and understanding promotes the most practical kind of body education possible. The body doesn't lie!" While each portion of the exhibit impacts individuals in different ways, no other display so directly exploits the detrimental effects of an unhealthy lifestyle.
In the digestive portion, a female specimen has been vertically segmented into three sections to provide a look into the dimensions of organs and fat cells that insulate the body. The final system on display brings to life the various cancers, and illnesses that have impacted so many lives. The exhibition as a whole can be very emotional for some visitors while endlessly fascinating for others as people relate to what they are seeing in different ways.
Bodies: The Exhibition is more real and alive than any scientific exhibition of its kind. The sophisticated preservation of individual organs, body systems and entire human specimen has made the necessary understanding of our bodies more accessible than ever before. Anyone who values their own body should certainly invest in visiting this one-of-a-kind experience.
Bodies: The Exhibition continues through February 13th. The exhibition is located at 6808 S Memorial Drive at the Gold's Gym Shopping Center and is open from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM Sunday through Thursday and 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM Friday and Saturday.
More information is available at bodiestheexhibition.com/Tulsa.
Share this article: