Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bodies: The Exhibition

Today Smart Guy and I joined 32 others for a Senior Center outing to Seattle and this: Bodies: The Exhibition. I don't know if you know much about it, but these are actual bodies that were prepared using a process called polymer preservation. From a book I bought about the exhibit:
In this process, tissue water is first removed by submersion in acetone. Then the acetone, too, is removed in a vacuum chamber. During this step in the process, known as impregnation, the tissue spaces within the specimen, formerly filled with acetone, become filled instead with liquid silicone rubber. Lastly, during a step called curing, the silicone rubber is treated with a catalyst and hardened. The end product is a rubberized specimen that can be easily examined without any chance of it deteriorating due to the natural decay that otherwise would have rendered it unfit for study or public view.
This is an amazing exhibit. I had heard that the bodies were of Chinese prisoners, so the first question I asked of one of the roaming white-coated staff was where the bodies were obtained. I found that, contrary to the rumors, these bodies had been Chinese citizens whose bodies were unclaimed and had died a natural death. She told me none of them had shown any signs of having died any other way, except for a few that had signs of disease, which we saw: healthy lungs versus a smoker' lungs, cirrhotic livers, breast cancer.

In many cases we saw the entire body preserved as in the picture above, from head to toe, with parts removed in order to see inside. Although it sounds really gross, it wasn't at all; instead, it was beautiful to see how elegant and complex our bodies really are. We first went to the Seattle Cheesecake Factory for lunch (beforehand!) and after seeing the exhibit, we were all picked up outside by our huge bus to head home to Bellingham.
Our wonderful escort from the Senior Center, Bernyce, was a pleasure to have around shepherding us from place to place. In my opinion, this is definitely the way to experience Seattle: no drive, no parking, and zero hassle once we were there. If you get a chance to see this exhibit, or if you already have, I'd love to know what YOU thought of it.


  1. Sounds like a real learning experience and an exhibit that I would enjoy:)

  2. That exhibit was in Ft Worth, Texas while we lived there and I missed it. It's also been in Portland since we've been here and I missed it. My chances may have run out.

    I've seen another exhibit since we've been here that was fascinating. It used real embryos, preserved in solution, and followed the birth process from conception to full-term. It was fascinating.

  3. You went to the Cheesecake factory after going to the exhibit of preserved bodies?

    The process of preserving one's body which were written in medical terms is something that I can't digest but the cheesecake is a hard core digestion!


  4. This sounds really interesting. I'm not sure I could go and see it though, but the cheesecake...I'd definitely be on board!
    Happy Wednesday!

  5. Yeah, the highlight of this trip for me would definitely be the Cheesecake Factory! In fact, I may skip the exhibit all together and wait for you there! (whilst sampling the fare, of course)

  6. Having studied in an old fashioned cadaver lab for nursing school I think this sounds like a much more pleasant way to view a body. The complexities of our bodies are truly amazing. I think I would have enjoyed the cheesecake factory better though...and I don't like cheesecake. I have seen more bodies than I care to.

  7. I have heard of this exhibit and it does sound interesting. I find the workings of the human body fascinating.

    The no driving in Seattle part sounds really good to me. That's a great way to travel.

  8. Pete and I saw this exhibit several years ago. It was fascinating. It gives you a really good idea how things do or don't work in your own body. We don't get to "see inside" very often. I loved the exhibit of the blood vessels. I was in awe. And you are is not gross at all.

  9. I badly want to see this exhibit! My sister saw the one in NY awhile back and raved about how fascinating it all was. She said it certainly made her glad she had quit smoking, and it cured her of the desire to eat a hamburger anytime soon!

  10. well now, that's different! I would like to see those bodies. I can just imagine what some of your dreams must be like D-Jan. Do you dream about jumping out of planes, hand in hand with a preserved body ever?
    I saw a programme on BBC where Stephen Fry (famous TV personality) visited Knoxville (in Tennessee, where I live sometimes) and saw the bodies at the Univ. of Tennessee. They put dead bodies all over the place, on the ground, in big dustbins, under trees etc. and they study how the bodies decompose. He said it was very macabre and smelly, but he was fascinated never the less.
    Blessings, Star

  11. I had my chance to see this exhibit, and I consciously avoided it. I'm sure it's not really gross, as you say, but the whole idea still creeps me out a little.

  12. My daughter said she saw it too and that it was AMAZING!!


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