Thursday, April 16, 2015

Body Worlds Has Arrived at The Texas Museum of Science and Technology!

For the first time ever, Gunther von Hagen's Body Worlds exhibit has arrived in Austin! 

Having been on exhibit in over seventy different cities in the past twenty years, Body Worlds rolled into the Texas Museum of Science and Technology last month, where it will stay through mid-September. An original and unique exhibit, Body Worlds gives a firsthand look into the anatomy and physiology of the human body, using corpses that have been donated to science and treated by the process of plastination, for the purpose of education and research. 

Plastination is a fascinating process, one that consists of five steps and takes over a year to complete! Though I'll admit to feeling a bit wary of the idea of viewing actual human bodies in the exhibit, I must say that the plastination process makes it look like a really fantastic scale model - nothing disgusting about it!

I was really excited to be taking Ava to see Body Worlds since she's at an age where she's both very curious about the functions of the body, and she's also very athletic. A lot of the bodies in one of the sections are positioned in athletic stances, and some of the figures are those of flamenco dancers or ballerinas, highlighting the differing muscle development of athletes. Seeing as how it's the middle of baseball season in our household, Ava particularly enjoyed the figure that was holding a bat, ready to swing, and it made the explanation of the different muscle groups and what she was seeing so much more relatable to her. She was very curious that evening as she went to swing her own bat while practicing about what was happening underneath her skin - pretty neat for a five-year-old!

© Gunther von Hagens' BODY WORLDS, Institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany,
All rights reserved.

Though she really enjoyed viewing the musculoskeletal system, I find the circulatory models to be the most fascinating. Seeing the complicated interweaving of blood vessels definitely made me feel a certain pride in my own body - it is shocking even for someone my age to think of all that is going on under the surface. 

I was initially concerned that the exhibit may be a bit too old for her, but she's been talking about it ever since we left! I struggle with how much information to discuss with her about things like smoking and other vices at her age, but viewing the black lung and seeing on screen what happens when plaque build up causes a heart attack provided the perfect opportunity to start to drive home the point that our actions have consequences, and many of those consequences accumulate in our bodies. I overheard her discussing the lung, as well as the slice of the brain that had a hemorrhage, with my husband, and I will admit I felt immensely satisfied. What a perfect way to introduce young people to the inner workings of their body, and the different ways in which we can choose to harm or help it along.

© Gunther von Hagens' BODY WORLDS, Institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany,
All rights reserved.

Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life is on display through September 20, 2015, with exhibits open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets may be purchased in advance at TX MoST, or at the box office. Admission is $21 for adults, $18 for seniors/students with ID, and $16 for children 6-17. Under 6 is free. Group rates are available for groups of 15 or more, as well as for field trips.

The new Texas Museum of Science and Technology can be found in its interim space at the former Soccerplex, located at 1220 Toro Grande, Cedar Park, TX  78613.

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