/ The Seattle Traveler
Seattle — By Mary Jo Manzanares on October 26, 2009 at 9:55 am

REVIEW: BODIES. . . the Exhibit Returns to Seattle

BODIES. . . The Exhibition returns to Seattle for a return engagement, continuing to capture the attention of crowds of people who want to learn more about the human body.  The exhibition strips away all pretenses, along with flesh, and reduces us all to our commonality of organs, tissue, bones, and complex interrelated systems.

BODIES:  Throwing darts

BODIES: Throwing darts

I was invited to attend the opening of the exhibit, and had the chance to walk around looking at a display of over 200 bodies and specimens that were stripped to their muscle, bone, and sinew.  There were entire bodies, posed in ways that allowed you to see the muscles involved in various activities, from shooting a basketball, to pulling, to just standing upright.  A number of individual organs are dissected and on display in a way that allows you to not only take a look at the specific organ, but to see how it interacts with the rest of your system to fuel or protect your entire body.

While I wandered around in a rather disorganized fashion, the exhibit itself is laid out in several sections, covering the different parts of the human anatomy:  the nervous system, the circulatory system, the muscular system, the reproductive system, etc.  It’s probably best to follow the organization is order to make the best sense of all the interrelatedness of the systems.

As I observed the exhibits, I noticed some common themes among viewers.  People tended to flock to the displays that represented their personal health issues.  People with kidney stones spent time in front of the kidney sections, those who knew someone who had had a heart attack spent time at that exhibit, and while smokers seemed to avoid the lungs (there was a place to dump your smokes if you were motivated to quit), I spent time looking at how my allergies caused and could cause upper respiratory and chest problems.

BODIES:  Shooting a Basketball

BODIES: Shooting a Basketball

My guest had expressed a little bit of concern about viewing the exhibit, and warned that he may need to duck out early.  Let’s just call it the potential “ick” factor.  These are real bodies, after all, and for most of us our only contact with a body is death-related.

Rest assured, this exhibit is NOTHING like that.  The specimens have been coated with a polymer product that preserves them for practically forever, and their display, while art gallery-like, is clinical and medically representative.  It’s a fascinating look at our body, and how disease and life choices can change it.  He didn’t duck out early, and was just as fascinated as I was, and I LOVED listening to the conversations around me.

I talked with a local nurse who was staffing one of the interactive displays (offering a chance to touch a liver specimen), and asked her opinion of the exhibit.  She said that by and large the medical community viewed it enthusiastically, as it offered a chance for the average person to see the body in action, learning how it worked.  And boy, did I learn a lot!

BODIES:  Skeleton

BODIES: Skeleton

She said that she felt the exhibit was suitable for most children because kids have a curiosity about their bodies, and it can become a terrific teaching opportunity for making healthy life choices.  Many teachers seem to agree, and it is a field trip for several classrooms.  The nurse stressed that parental involvement and preparation would help position the exhibit as medical learning opportunity, rather than something macabre.  (It is the Halloween season, after all.)

Location:  1505 5th Avenue, Downtown (map)

Dates & Times:  Sunday – Thursday, 10 am – 7 pm, Friday & Saturday, 10 am – 10 pm.  The last admission time is one hour before closing.

Tickets:  $22.50 adults; $18.50 Seniors (60+); $17.50 Children (ages 4-12); children under 4 are FREE.  Ticket prices reflect a $3.50 service charge, and can be purchased online (strongly suggested) or at the door.  An optional audio tour can be purchased on site, although I found that I didn’t listen to it.

BODIES. . . the Exhibition is appearing in several cities around the country, and has a permanent exhibit in Las Vegas.  Have you had the opportunity to see it?  Were you fascinated by what you saw?

Photo credits: Mary Jo Manzanares

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