Spent the day at St. Paul’s Museum of Science — mostly to see the amazing Body Worlds exhibit currently on display. Dozens of human bodies with liquids and fats replaced by polymers for permanent preservation — through the miracle of modern plastics, these are the mummies of our age. Actual circulatory and nervous systems in exact shape of the bodies they occupied. Brains and brain stems and spinal cords pulled from the skull and spine and draped out behind bodies like capes for maximum visibility of the musculature and skeletal systems that lay behind, as the bodies continued to do the things they had done in life – teach classes, shoot arrows, play basketball, run.
In some examples, bodies had been sliced into perfect longitudinal strips, allowing viewers to compare the organs and organization of healthy and unhealthy bodies. In others, brains sliced and plasticized in place so you could see dendrites descend into cerebellum, out through base of skull, down spinal cord, trace all the way to fingertips. Penises and vaginas in full, un-sexy, functional display (you can imagine the comments left in the guest books). A man’s entire musculature free of bones, standing free, touching its own skeleton as if friends. A man walking with his own skin draped over his shoulder, as though it were a coat. “Winged Man” with all muscle groups splayed outwards, enabling you to see the marvelous intricacy of related muscles. A father with young child riding on his shoulders, mother walking beside, all three of them composed of nothing but their own blood vessels.
A bit of revulsion after first entering, quickly replaced with absolute fascination, both at the marvelous intricacy of the human body (or in awe of God’s work, depending on your leaning), and at the amazing process that makes the examples possible. A few videos online at the Body Worlds meta-site.