Last week I was able to experience “Body Worlds & the Brain” at the Science Museum of Virginia. I was a little apprehensive to go at first because I knew that I would be viewing actual bodies and organs, but my husband talked me in to it. Well, it was a learning experience to say the least. I was surprised by how captivated I was. You will never take your body for granted again!
“Body Worlds & the Brain” includes more than 200 authentic human specimens; including entire bodies, individual organs and transparent body slices. The actual human bodies are posed and preserved through a process called plastination invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens in 1977. This process allows guests to view anatomical features and muscle systems just as if the body was performing that activity at that very moment. I was in awe that I was looking at actual bodies, but I couldn’t take my eyes off them. With each exhibit there are note cards educating the viewer about what the various muscles, joints, etc. are doing. I left thinking that I really need to exercise more. If you don’t use it, you lose it!
The organ specimens and body slices are both healthy and diseased. These specimens hit home. I now have a better understanding of how negative lifestyles and disease affect our body. Actually you always know in the back of your head, but believe me, seeing is believing! Do you know a smoker? Have he or she go with you to look at the healthy lungs and then at the smoker’s lungs! Admittedly, these types of specimens were a little harder to look at, but still just as fascinating.
Want to know why your teenager is so crazy? There is a real scientific explanation. Sorry, Stephanie and Melissa! When you were teenagers, I thought it was you two just being “that age.” Little did I know. The brain exhibition explains neuroscience findings, brain development and function, and dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Attending the exhibit was also an emotional experience. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the body donors and their families. These individuals had the foresight and unselfishness to know that their bodies could be used for scientific and educational purposes. What a gift–something not all of us could do.
Really, if you have the chance, you should experience the exhibit. You may be apprehensive, but it really isn’t as unnerving as you’d think it would be.
Malinda Phelps is a Richmond native having grown up mostly in the West End. A Virginia Commonwealth University graduate, she lives in Mechanicsville with her husband Rick. She enjoys showing Richmond and its surrounding areas’ sites to her grandchildren.