New York City is the host city for “Bodies: The Exhibition,” the controversial art exhibit that has been touring the country for a few years now. This art exhibition reveals the body in different positions – from the inside out. The sinews, blood vessels, and spinal system are all revealed in their minute complexity and stunning beauty. So are a multitude of bodily organs, both healthy and unhealthy.
“Bodies: The Exhibition” is a wonderful educational experience, because it helps people to understand the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Many have never experienced looking inside the body to see the delicate structures which are beneath the skin. By taking a closer look at different exhibits, students will come to understand why it is so important to keep the body operating at optimum performance. The body’s systems are all integrally related.
The controversy over “Bodies: The Exhibition” stems mostly from the origins of the actual bodies used to construct the art show. In order to use bodies in a traveling exhibit, permissions from the deceased’s family are standard. However, the bodies in this show were unidentified or unclaimed bodies from China. Knowing the origins of the subjects in the exhibition bothers some, though not all who attend. Many have speculated that to be immortalized in this exhibit might just be preferable to being buried or cremated and forgotten.
Egyptian predecessors used mummification processes that drained the bodily fluids, placed vital organs in jars, and preserved the body with natural salt-based substances. The bodies in this exhibition were preserved with liquid silicone rubber, a contemporary compound that adds fluidity to the corpse and ensures that the bodies will not decay. This is much like mummification, only better.
The 20 human cadavers are staged in a variety of poses to highlight the interior bodily processes that are stressed in different positions. These dramatic poses let the viewer see exactly how the body moves on the inside, when it is in motion.
For science students, and students of anatomy, “Bodies: The Exhibition” is highly recommended. But student travel groups still don’t want to miss “Bodies: The Exhibition” in New York City, just because a field trip focus is not science. The show and the educational materials that accompany it are designed to reach students across the curriculum, including art, archeology, health sciences and more. Attending the show is a great way to educate students of all ages including elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as those in college.
Teachers who want to prepare groups in advance of the trip to New York City to see “Bodies: The Exhibition” may request a Teacher’s Guide for use in the classroom.
Many visitors who have attended the exhibition from around the country have raved about “Bodies: The Exhibition.” Because bodies are dissected, embryos and fetuses from bodies are shown, and the human samples could actually be criminals from Chinese jails, the show still remains controversial. Some viewers have commented that a view of the internal organs and bodily processes is a bit much to stomach, but somehow they have not found it gory, just hard to look at for long.
“Bodies: The Exhibition” will be in New York City at the South Street Seaport Exhibition Centre at 11 Fulton Street through the end of 2008. Teachers in the greater New York City area are invited to come for a special preview of the exhibit on Thursday, September 25 from 4-9 p.m. or Friday September 26 from 4-10 p.m.
Visit “Bodies: The Exhibition” website online and watch “The Field Trip” to gauge previous student and adult reactions. In the meantime, put aside reservations about bringing a student travel group to the exhibit. “Bodies” is a valuable educational tool with the potential to have a huge impact on our perceptions of the body, and our selves.