Body Worlds Returns Friday to Museum of Science and IndustryMar 17th, 2011 | By Roy Rasmussen | Category: Science and Nature
The popular anatomy exhibit Body Worlds returned to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry Friday, March 18. The exhibit features cadavers preserved through a special process that allows an unprecedented transparent look at the inside of the human body.
The cadavers are preserved through a process called plastination where decay and smell are avoided by replacing water and fat with plastics, yielding specimens that retain most properties of the original sample and can be touched. The inventor of plastination, German anatomist Gunther von Hagens, is the developer and promoter of the exhibit.
The exhibit debuted in 1995 and has toured the world since then to 32 million visitors. The previous two exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry were among the museum’s most popular attractions, drawing 1.3 million visitors.
Each release of the exhibit has featured a different theme. The latest exhibit’s theme is “Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life,” illustrating the aging process. The displays range from examples of the body at its peak during sports activity to the body breaking down from obesity and smoking.
The exhibit is used to solicit viewers to donate their bodies to scientific research at the German medical institute that developed the plastination process and creates the exhibit.
Controversy has surrounded the exhibit over a number of issues. Religious and ethical authorities have objected that the display is irreverent towards the human body. Medical authorities have objected that the exhibit’s donations rob sources of organ transplant. Legal authorities have questioned the process of acquiring consent for the exhibits and have raised sticky issues about applicable import and copyright laws.
Despite these controversies, the exhibit remains one of the museum’s most popular draws. It runs through September 5, and based on past success, is likely to return again after touring other locations. For more information, see http://www.msichicago.org/whats-here/exhibits/body-worlds/.