Body Worlds at Back Bay Hub
I have to admit I’m more of an arts person than a science person, but I surround myself with people of all sorts and life is just better that way. When I heard Body Worlds was in town, I knew either my life sciences major daughter or middle school science teacher friend would definitely want to see what it was all about. It turns out that Body Worlds is for every person regardless of interest. The way the exhibit is set up with the underlying theme of happiness, something we all seek at times and relish at others, it appeals to more than just the biological scientists among us. The science of plastination is fascinating albeit perhaps a little gruesome for some. If you don’t want to read more details about it you can walk on by but if the process piques your interest the exhibit carefully explains each stage of plastination. Body Worlds Boston is at the Back Bay Hub on Newbury Street. Tickets starts at $25 and can be purchased here.
Body Worlds: The Anatomy of Happiness
We live in a time when a focus on metal health is crucial. Our awareness of mental health and the language to speak about it has increased as has the need to address it. The fact that an exhibit created around the human body is able to integrate the mind so well is refreshing. So often, in the Western world, we separate the mind and the body. This curated collection of formerly living human specimens called “plastinates” interprets the latest research and findings by social scientists on how happiness is determined and presents medical findings about the impact of happiness on the body and mind.
Snapshots of Bodies in Motion: Plastination
For those too young to understand the happiness connection, there is plenty to see and the way the bodies are displayed in their entirety or just in slices, is fascinating to look at. The exhibit shows you whole bodies, which take about a year to complete and 1,500 working hours, in positions they could have been in when living. Body Worlds also allows you to look into different systems of the body from joints, limbs and bones to networks of nerves and blood vessels. As you are guided through two levels of Body Worlds, you will be invited to explore everything from the growth of fetuses to the various organs that we rely on for health and ultimately happiness too.
Plastination and the Evolution of Body Words
While the practice of plastination was invented in 1977 in Heidelberg, Germany by Dr. Gunther von Hagens, the first Body Worlds exhibit was in Tokyo in 1995 and has since been created in 154 cities. Seeing the bodies as a unit is one thing, but being able to see whole networks of nerves and blood vessel systems suspended outside the body is kind of incredible. In some ways it is eye opening to realize that our bodies do in fact look like the pictures in the science textbooks of the classroom. Our inner workings are a lot more clean-cut than one would imagine (keeping in mind that the fat has all been cleared away of course).
True champions aren’t always the ones that win, but those with the most guts.Mia Hamm
What You’ll See and Do
When you look at guts in their less squishy state, and if you are a little squeamish, then plastination is for you. Guts aren’t quite so gross looking once the liquid is removed and replaced with plastics. The way that Body Worlds is exhibited you can look at whole bodies set up almost like sculptures in motion. It allows you to look at a distance or get up close to study different parts of the body in detail.
The exhibit begins with a video that gets you thinking about the body in the context of happiness. There are photographs and interactive displays as well that are unique to Body Worlds. One room, that may be slightly sensitive for some (for a variety of reasons) shows fetuses from the very early days through almost full term. It is quite fascinating, but if it will be a trigger for you, it is easy to skip that one room. I would allow at least one hour to visit Body Worlds but you could spend much longer. It is a great family outing, date night diversion, or fun friend day out. Add in a meal or treat on Newbury Street and you can make a half or whole day of it. It is a great way to keep cool or take a break from exploring Boston in the heat.