Livesinnewyork’s Blog

January 13, 2009

Bodies Exhibition

Filed under: NYC — Tags: , , , — nahanarts @ 3:19 pm

Warning:  If you don’t like jokes about preserved bodies / fetuses please stop reading, this will probably offend you at some point. Also if you don’t want to see pictures of these things.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of kicking out of work early and wandering the city with a friend who was visiting from Baltimore.

Turns out pretty much all the museums we wanted to go to are closed on Mondays. But, thanks to my handy internet phone and a keen memory, we ended up at the Bodies Exhibition currently at the South Street Seaport.

It’s really great and you should check it out.

I’d wanted to go for a long time, and actually sat outside of it in the fall while my friend went in. I didn’t have a job yet, and couldn’t spend the $30. But yesterday it was totally worth it. My friend and I spent over 3 hours inside and left to the sounds of staff closing up for the night.

A lot of the things we saw were pretty much what I expected from what I’d read. Although, a written description can not really begin to explain the feeling you get when seeing them in person.  I don’t know, the fact that this was a real person doesn’t really hit you until you’re tempted to touch it.That’s one body – the skeletal and muscular systems separated, and what looks to be dancing with each other. The creepiest part of any of the full-size cadavers is the eyeballs. I fully expected them to turn their heads and start talking to me. And with my intense fear of zombies, that probably would have freaked me out a little.

Some of the bodies were cut into sections so that you can see how the parts fit together. The last one was 5 pieces in sections cut from side to side – that is, right arm, right torso, middle, left torso, left arm. There’s no good way to explain that.

This guy is cut the opposite direction – front to back into three pieces. My friend and I agreed that he was the happiest guy to be dissected and preserved.

My favorite section, which I hadn’t known about before going was the circulatory system. They have this crazy process where they put dye into the blood, then remove the rest of the body so that all that’s left is this beautiful, vivid map of all of the blood vessels in the body. Here’s the heart and lungs. It looks a lot like coral, which is pretty interesting from an evolutionary standpoint. Not that we’re evolved from coral, just that a lot of the same shapes and styles are used in totally different lifeforms.

But man, the cooooolest thing was this:

The entire circulatory system fully preserved.

There were a ton of cool facts about this, like how long it would be if fully stretched out…like billions of miles or something. That no cell is more than a millimeter away from a blood vessel at any given time. I think. It was crazy to see. The creepy part, though – there were lots of little red pieces that had broken off piling up at the bottom of the tank. They made me sad for some reason.

The most disturbing section was development, because that’s where the babies are. All of the fetuses on display were adorable and horrifying at the same time. And while I’m pretty firm on my beliefs about abortion, this room at least makes you think about it, if not change your mind about some things. However, the fetus with the bone-development process would make great cover art for some epic metal album:

Bad joke? Oh. Sorry.

Anyway, second to the Circulatory and Development rooms, I was intrigued by the nervous system, pretty much completely because of this extracted ENTIRE central nervous system. So scary. So awesome.

The exhibit was completely fascinating, and in the end had a just-preachy-enough message to make me think twice about what I eat and how I exercise. Some of their diseased organs are enough to make you want to slap anyone who smokes, and steal that doughnut from the fat guy walking down the street. TO SAVE THEIR LIVES.

I highly suggest making a trip to anyone interested. I want to try to go to at least one more of the various exhibits around the world to see some things I missed.

Like this.


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