Saturday, July 21, 2007
Friday we went to see "Body Worlds" at Discovery Place in Charlotte. This is an exhibition of real human bodies and body parts that have been preserved with a method called plastination. The bodies are essentially soaked in a plastic product and a vacuum is created that causes the plastic to soak all through the fibers.
That sounds really gross. And many people will not go to see this exhibit because they will be grossed-out. But there really is no way to explain to people how utterly un-intimidating this exhibit is without having them see it. That's a shame.
The exhibit is terribly expensive. It cost $50 for Nate and I to go see it. That included parking and the audio phones we rented. You really have to use the audio phones. You can see everything and understand everything by walking through and reading the signs, but the audio tour really is pretty cool. The exhibit is mostly about the bodies themselves, of course, but also about the plastination process.
About five minutes after entering the exhibit, I came upon a display case showing joints. There was a hand, shoulder, and maybe an elbow. I don't remember that third one for sure. But what struck me was the hand. The audio narrator said the joints are designed so that motion is possible in multiple directions. But what struck me was when the narrator said, "The joints are coated with cartilage to reduce friction."
That is what the phrase "fearfully and wonderfully made" really means. And that phrase, from Psalm 139:14, echoed through my head as I spent the next two hours wandering through the exhibit.
It became easy to see God as a divine engineer, making decisions about this invention, and working out "Well, if I make it able to do this, I'll have to do something about this problem that could crop up."
That was the main thing I took away from the exhibit. The other thing I thought about was, "I sure am glad that I take good care of this body." Seeing all the muscles and organs, in stages of great health and also in serious disrepair, made me realize even more the importance of fitness and health. There was a cross-section of an obese person that really struck me to the core. As I looked on to these two slices of a person, I could see how the fat was so hard on the body. How the organs were laden with the weight. It's amazing how some of those organs are able to function at all. And this particular person had a pacemaker installed.
The exhibit of the obese person made me want to help overweight people as much as I can. It's a terrible burden to bear, both physically and mentally. And our society is not kind to people who struggle with this issue, even though more than half of us are overweight.
Seeing all the muscles was pretty cool. Most of the people who were preserved were obviously in pretty good shape. You could see this superior muscle definition and it was neat to see the individual muscles and muscle groups that our jazzercise instructors are always pointing out, "deltoids, rhomboids, lats, obliques, quads, etc."
There were three things I wished as I was going through the exhibit:
1. I wish the first third of the exhibit weren't so loud. The entrance is in an area of the museum where there are lots of noisy, hands-on exhibits to play with. There are walls separating the traveling exhibits from the rest of the place, but at the beginning of the special area they don't go all the way to the ceiling. It's hard to hear the audio in that environment, and it diminished the serious nature of the exhibit. I remember thinking that about the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, too.
2. I wish there were special times that could be designated adults-only. Like an evening or two. The kids were well-behaved (in fact, the only people I saw leaning on the cases were ADULTS(!!)) and it was cool to see them marvel over the exhibits, but their chatter and excitement was also a distraction to the seriousness of the displays. Especially in the prenatal section.
3. I wish the exhibit were smaller. I was worn out by about half-way through and I know I didn't give enough attention to the displays in the last half.
I'm recommending this exhibit to everyone I know. But cautioning those with young kids that it can be very tiring.