The California Science Center, now the "California ScienCenter," is a science museum with fun gadgets for kinesthetic kids. Right now, however, the Science Center has an amazing exhibit for adults. More than 200 cadavers have been plastinated for the viewing public in Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies.
I used to do histology when I was still in research. A tissue sample goes into liquid plastic, which hardens. The plastic cube goes into the microtome to be cut into thin slices. An adhesive and cover slip goes on top of the tissue sample on the slide, and voilà, you have a microscope slide. What's different about the Body Worlds exhibit is the WHOLE BODY is plastinated. They’ve sliced the bodies into cross sections and longitudinal sections. Various organs are on display as well as whole bodies. A skinned man holds up his hide in one hand, displayed in all his muscular glory.
One controversial exhibit that troubled many viewers was a pregnant woman. The woman died of cancer and willed her body and fetus for the exhibit. Her fetus was 8 months old. Since these bodies were donated in Europe, the laws are different from US laws. I was awed, but realized other countries have different laws when it comes to protecting the lives of unborn children. I do not feel that the US should impose their laws on them, so I was not bothered. After all, I have dissected fetal animals.
We bought the combo pack—exhibit and The Human Body IMAX film. The next IMAX showing was 11:30am. It was 10:30am. Policy is IMAX first. There are no ins-and-outs, so if you choose to see the exhibit first, you must see the movie 3 hours later. The soonest we were allowed to watch the IMAX was 3:30pm if we saw the exhibit first. After getting into the exhibit at 10:45am, we finished the exhibit around 1pm. We walked around the rest of the Science Center but became bored. There is McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and a museum café in the food court. The museum café has better food, but we’d already ordered Taco Bell, and the café was more expensive. We killed time in the Rose Garden at Exposition Park. At 3pm we went to the IMAX theater. The movie was only 45 minutes. Skip the IMAX and just do the exhibit. Educators can go for free by filling out an online form. You receive a free voucher to print as your admission ticket. You can also order free classroom materials.
The Body Worlds exhibit is running from July 2, 2004 to January 23, 2005. Hours are 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily. (Last admission is at 8 p.m.) Call (323) SCIENCE, (323) 724-3623 to check on admission times, especially if you want to buy a combo ticket. They stagger the admission so that there isn't a huge crowd at the same time. Go on a weekday. It will be crowded on the weekends.