Body Worlds: Love It, Hate It, Creeped Out?

a) Have you seen the ongoing show (display) of real cadavers strategically dissected to reveal the splendor of the human machine just beneath the skin? What’s your opinion of this display?

b) I understand these were people who donated their bodies to science. Do you think they knew their bodies could wind up in a freak show? If you are not aware, they have these bodies in various poses to display various muscle groups, I WAG. I wonder if you check a box “donate my body, but not for public enjoyment”!!!

Yes, I’ve seen it. I think it was rather interesting and fascinating. The poses are sometimes rather creative, but I didn’t find them disrespectful.

In the exhibit, they showed an example of the form that people had to sign in order to donate their bodies. There was full disclosure that the bodies may or may not be put on public display.

There is another, similar exhibit out there called BODIES…the Exhibition that does have some controversy regarding the source of their bodies. They may be Chinese prisoners who were used without consent.

The people whose bodies end up there donated them specifically to Body Worlds, they knew exactly what was going to happen. If you go over to, you can read the consent form.
Having said that. I thought it was a pretty cool exhibit.

I saw the exhibit in LA several years ago. Amazing stuff. The display that really hit home was the one that showed the person who had died from melanoma. I finally got a chance to see-in a concrete way-the thing that has been trying to kill me.

I liked it, very fascinating stuff and it was a great experience (I saw BODIES…The Exhibition.) I started getting a little woozy towards the end but I’d definitely go see it again if given another chance. I also picked up the book “Stiff” in their gift shop and that was a great read.

I missed it when it was in my town, so I haven’t seen it, but I want to donate my body to it when I die. I think it would be better served there then in a graveyard or sitting in a urn on someone’s mantle, or scattered somewhere. My second choice would be the Body Farm at the U of Tennessee.

I have, it was excellent. Those of us who have never been to medical school are unlikely to ever see the human anatomy in such detail. Photographs and drawings in an anatomy book just don’t truly convey the beautiful complexity of our bodies.

I don’t know if characterizing it as a freak show is fair. Still, I saw Body Works in Dallas and in Hot Springs, Arkansas I saw a similar presentation by a different company. The one I saw in Hot Springs made me think twice because all the bodies were Chinese. This was around the time the Chinese government was accused of doctoring official documents to get their under aged gymnast into the games. It made me wonder whether any of the bodies on display in this particular exhibit were actually volunteers.

Adore it and everything like it (including most shows on Discovery Health Channel).

I would love to be able to see something like this and the quoted section is why.

I saw Body Worlds during its tour through Vancouver a few years ago. I thought it was fascinating and beautiful.

The exhibit was in a section of Science World, traditionally a kid-friendly venue. I remember the exhibit room having a good deal of children in it, most of which were stunned into silence.

I had two favourites, one of which was a chicken that was deprived of everything but its veins. It was an incredibly delicate network of red fingers in a vague bird shape. The other was a man holding his brain in one palm and his heart in the other. They seemed awfully similar in size. That was surprising on a few levels, one of which was the poetic one.

That said, the man who created the process had also covered the exhibit space in posters dedicated to his own greatness. I was a bit turned off by those.

I saw it in Manchester last year. It was incredible. I figured it would be the only chance I would get to see the inside of the human body, since I don’t plan to go into medicine any time soon.

I didn’t find it gorey or ‘freak show’-ish in any way. If you didn’t know, you would just think they were extremely detailed plastic models. I was particularly impressed with those that showed how blood vessels split into elaborate patterns in your organs.
You can see the human body from dozens of different angles and without the blood you get on surgery tv shows. It doesn’t feel disrespectful. All the bodies are posed, and some are umm… sliced, for want of a better word. But it doesn’t feel gratuitous because each piece shows you something different. I remember there was a model in which one body was posed as if performing surgery on another, and a set of four people playing poker. The different positions show a more natural way of how muscles flex.

There was also a skin-less gorilla, and the chicken made up of veins that Foldup Rabbit mentioned.

There was also a room of fetuses. This was screened off from the main display so you didn’t have to go in if you thought it was upsetting. It was fascinating to see how the fetus develops week by week. There were signs reassuring visitors that none of them had been aborted, which I guess they must get asked a lot. I thought this part would disturb me, but when you are actually there it doesn’t feel like you are looking at corpses.

I saw it in Los Angeles several years ago. For about five minutes I felt a little strange, knowing these were real people. Then I got used to it. Overall, a truly fascinating exhibitiion.

I saw it in London last year. It was an incredibly life-affirming experience. This provides a rare opportunity to see how our bodies work and what we are made of without an intermediary blocking the experience. By which I mean that typically exploration of the body is done on TV or in the classroom and there’s a specific learning goal getting in the way of just sitting back and enjoying the awe.

I too adored the chicken. There was a human head done in similar fashion with just the veins retained - absolutely stunning to see. The part of me which is interested in the science was kept very interested but the part of me which appreciates art was also involved. It was a very humbling yet uplifting experience and I’m very grateful to those who donated their bodies.

Saw it in Germany, twice. I felt really strange for the first five minutes, but then it was just fascinating and beautiful. I agree with other posters, it leaves you with a lot of respect and awe at the human body.

Its pretty cool. The process was developed at the University of Heidelberg - they have a pretty neat exhibit in the anatomy department.

I saw it on the first run in Germany when I was a teenager. Fascinating.
And not creepy, as opposed to the National History Museum in Beijing, where they have a few bodies and parts in formalin in a small shack outside the main building.

I loved it, thought it was great.

It isn’t a “freak show”, in the sense that it is showing normal bodies and generally not unusual ones. But there is an element of morbid curiosity that it may share with freak shows. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this, and doubt the characterization of freak shows themselves does justice to the validity of morbid curiosity and the value of satisfying it. I think we create in people an unhealthy fascination in morbidity by trying so hard to hide it, and not the other way around, namely that we need to hide morbidity because people’s fascination is inhealthy.

I saw the exhibit in Chicago when it first opened there 5 years ago.
The permanent new You - the Experience human body exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago has a handful of the Body World plastination bodies and body parts.
I have been going there since I was a kid, and they have had 1/2 inch body slices on exhibit since the 40’s. These are much more elegant and It’s easier to grasp the human body seeing the new exhibits.
By the way, I took a Human Anatomy course at the University of Illinois, Chicago 25 years ago. It was the only non-medical school cadaver dissection cl;ass around. The view of the body in the Body Worlds is much clearer then when students dissect the body. Plus, the smell of the cadaver dissection is not a pleasant experience.

I saw Bodies, not Body World, but I enjoyed it. Especially the little fetal baby bodies. It was kind of cool seeing fetuses up close, without the accompanying, “CHOOSE LIFE” message.

I saw the Chinese version in San Francisco a few years back (was it the Bodies exhibit?) and it was a really intriguing look into the body and our range of movements. The controversy about the use of prisoner bodies (in the Chinese exhibit) kind of soured it for me though. My boyfriend, who saw both the Chinese exhibit and the real Body Worlds exhibit, said that he preferred the Body World bodies since they were prepared with a lot more precision (cleaner use of dyes, etc).

The day we went, there was a family with two boys in line behind us. One boy was adamant that he didn’t want to go and cried, then hid behind his mother while we were waiting to go inside. By the end of the exhibit though, he was running around from exhibit to exhibit, utterly fascinated with it.