Body Worlds Venture Beneath the Flesh

The Popular Exhibit Comes to the San Jose Tech Museum

Museum displays are no longer limited to interesting artifacts and colorful paintings. The Tech Museum in San Jose is currently displaying an exhibition that offers viewers the chance to see the interiors of real human bodies.

Body Worlds is an exhibition that was created by Dr. Gunther von Hagens, who invented a method of preservation known as plastination. In this method, plastic is injected into the interiors of human bodies for sturdiness, and they are covered with a thin layer of plastic to preserve them. The exhibition showcases these preserved human bodies. The skin is removed from most of the bodies, which gives people a look into the interior anatomy of the human being.

Many students have already had the opportunity to visit the exhibit when the biology and forensics classes took a field trip to the museum. Several students appreciated the unique experience offered by the exhibition.

“I really liked it for a field trip,” biology student freshman Morgan Aozasa said. “It was a really fun experience. It’s just a really cool thing to see all the body parts.”

The entire collection includes over 200 preserved human bodies and a small number of animals, like horses, as well. These bodies are currently being showcased in not only San Jose, but also in Charlotte, N.C., and St. Louis, Mo. The Body Worlds showcase opened in the Tech Museum September 27, 2007, and will remain there until January 26, 2008.

Bodies are placed in different positions to show people how muscles, joints and bones work. Several of the bodies are doing sports such as soccer, ice-skating and ballet. Viewers are given the opportunity to observe how different interior parts of the body work as a person participates in a certain activity. This gives people the chance to physically see how the human body functions.

One feature of the exhibition is the inclusion of a sequence of human embryos in different stages to display the growth of the human being. Different specimens are lined up in order from a small egg to different-sized embryos to an almost fully developed baby.

Another focus of the showcase is the human brain, which is displayed in several cases throughout the exhibit. Many of the bodies are cut open at the head to reveal a part of the brain for viewers to observe. There are also brains displayed individually throughout the museum.

Brains are not the only organs that are displayed apart from bodies; hearts, intestines, lungs and veins are also showcased. Museum visitors are able to see the lungs of smokers versus non-smokers and the lungs of a coal miner. This gives viewers the chance to physically see how the human body is affected by various activities.

Freshman Jordan Campitelli enjoyed being able to learn about health by observing the different lungs.

“When you actually see, you’re just like ‘If I smoke, my lungs are going to look like that,’” Jordan said.

Jordan also thought that the exhibition was a great educational experience.

“I thought that it was informational because we’ll be learning about the human body systems,” Jordan said. “[It was] cool to see what we’re actually talking about and what’s inside you.

However, the display was also graphic for some.

“I thought it was gross how … it showed all the intestines,” freshman Haley Sugimoto said.

Overall, the exhibit proves to be a rare and interesting experience that is also very educational. Usually, the interiors of human bodies can only be seen by doctors and other such people. This exhibit makes it possible for the public to observe the interior anatomy as well, a rare opportunity. If you’re looking for something eye-opening to do, this is the perfect activity. For those that wish to visit the exhibit, tickets for teens cost $15, and the exhibit is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.