BODIES – The Exhibition
Carnegie Science Center
BODY WORLDS is the world renowned exhibit created by Gunter von Hagen that has traveled the world bringing the human body in its most basic form to illustrate how it functions. Using a technology called “plastination” human bodies are preserved to allow scientists to show muscle tissues, organs, skeletal structure and the circulatory system. BODIES – The Exhibition is a copy-cat production using the same process to preserve human cadavers for illustrating the complexity and wonderment of our body.
I spent about an hour touring through the various areas of this very interesting, and at times thought provoking, exhibit. Starting with some rather basic displays of the human skeletal and muscular systems, it was easy to become comfortable with what seemed to be an uncomfortable air of voyeurism looking at the human form in its rawest, most basic form . . . bare and naked.
As someone who has her own health concerns, to learn about and see anatomically accurate illustrations through real human bodies gave many reasons to pause for reflection. Not a smoker myself, I cannot imagine the impact of seeing an actual lung blackened and destroyed through cigarette smoking would be to a current smoker. To see a breast ravaged by cancer only served to remind me of how fortunate I am that I have not had breast cancer hit women of my family.
I have always wondered about the uterine fibroids that continue to pain me so to see one preserved through plastination, I thought “I need to donate my body to science so that they can display what I have since mine is roughly twice the size of the one on display.” I was also very interested in seeing the structure of the lungs and how they work when healthy and how disease hampers them from feeding our body with life’s substance - - oxygen.
Perhaps one of the potentially most disturbing areas of the exhibit was immediately after the reproductive organs display. Once sperm meets egg, a single cell exists for about 30 minutes before splitting and duplicating creating the embryo that some 40 weeks later arrives as a small bundle of joy. In the area that has preserved fetuses as young as a couple of weeks after conception . . . and as fully developed as a baby at full term. They also have a couple of specimens of fetuses with birth defects including a cleft lip as well as one with spina bifida. I had to take a seat and clear my head after seeing this section of the exhibition. For those who may not want to see these specimens, there is a side entrance that by-passes this hall and takes you to the next area.
I think in total there were 15 full body specimens that illustrate muscle structure, the full digestive tract from mouth to anus and other full systems including the circulatory system complete with heart and lungs. There were three bodies featuring sports poses including a tennis server, a volleyball player digging a spike and a soccer player doing a bicycle kick. To see their muscles fully flexed in sport was very interesting. I cannot do justice in trying to explain the detail that this plastination process allows you to view the human body. You really must see it for yourself.
Admission fee for BODIES – The Exhibition is a separate fee from the main Carnegie Science Center. There is no price break if you’re not interested in the science center itself, save your $14. Admission prices for the BODIES exhibit is $22 for adults and $16 for kids ages 3 – 12. Carnegie Science Center members receive a discounted rate of $14 and $10 respectively. There is no price break for seniors at this exhibit. Exhibition hours are 10:00am – 9:00pm daily, except on Steelers’ home game days, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
NOTE: They do not permit taking photos in exhibit area.