If you need incentive to attend your heart’s health, this exhibit is for you. Featuring over 200 authentic human specimens, ranging from arteries to full human bodies, Body Worlds and the Story of the Heart gives viewers an amazing view of the delicate systems that keep us running, breathing and thinking.
The tightly-focused exhibit takes viewers through the body, focusing on the heart and the role it plays in our body functions. Displayed alongside full-body specimens are the different organs and bodily systems, including the nervous system, circulatory system and digestive system. Viewers learn about how the body develops from conception to birth, how we are able to move and breathe, and what happens when we treat our bodies badly.
The remarkable level of preservation is achieved through a process called plastination, developed by Dr. Gunther von Hagens. In a nutshell, the process of plastination dehydrates the body, then uses a vacuum chamber to replace water with special plastic polymers. This allows for the incredibly life-like preservation of human bodies, and is what makes Body Worlds so fascinating: you are looking at an actual person! Most of the plastinates are between the ages of 55 and 65.
I had the pleasure of viewing the new Body Worlds exhibit, Body Worlds and the Story of the Heart, and was struck by how intricate and ultimately frail we all are. In many parts of the exhibition, healthy organs and bodies are juxtaposed with unhealthy or diseased specimens, showing viewers what happens when we smoke, are obese or lead an unhealthy lifestyle. It’s one thing to say a habit like smoking is bad for you; it’s another thing entirely to see the healthy lungs next to the lungs that look like asphalt.
Some of the specimens might be shocking or overwhelming for some; I was a little disturbed by some of the full-body plastinates that had hair or skin. On the other hand, while visiting I was frequently in the same places as a father with his young daughter, who, at about 4 years old, was perfectly ok with seeing the exhibits.
With the previous Body Worlds exhibit attracting nearly half a million visitors to the Ontario Science Centre in its 5-month run, there is no doubt that this second exhibit will be just as successful. Tickets are timed entry, so buy ahead at www.OntarioScienceCentre.ca or by calling 416-696-1000. And don’t wait too long: this exhibit is here for a limited time only.