Mind-bending, controversial, thought-provoking, insane … Body Worlds evokes a stream of descriptions, all of which fail to convey how truly unique this exhibition is.
Part art exhibit, part anatomy lesson, Gunther von Hagens uses real human bodies, donated specifically for his exhibition, to intrigue and instruct museum visitors. The displays are as mesmerizing as they are challenging. Preserved using his self-developed plastination process, the entire collection is shockingly “fresh.”
Layers of sinewy muscle and vine-like tendons play upon dancing skeletons. Mobile-like displays of human organs entice some and repulse others. Human cross-sections invite us to peek within. At every turn, dismembered bodies serve to educate. One body literally explodes into the surrounding space. Another schizophrenically rips itself in two. Astounding. The body as a work of art is on graphic display: a human heart, a cancer ridden lung, an alcoholic’s liver, the entire male reproductive system. This is no normal day at the museum.
If you happen to be in San Diego this summer, you can see Body World’s at the Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. Otherwise, take a look at the Body Worlds Website to find other current and planned showings of the exhibit in the U.S. and abroad. (The website is also worth a visit just to see more pictures of the displays.)