Field Trips: Bodies Exhibit

It was quite a coincidence when I read the article about the Bodies Exhibition in Poland the other day, since I was already planning on visiting the New York Exhibition. I went with my husband (medical student who could tour us through the human body), sister (future occupational therapist or other medical occupation), and my parents. 

Husband and sister thoroughly enjoyed the journey through the human body. The rest of us were a bit queasy. It started with bones and skeletons and progressed through muscles, nervous system, circulatory system, respiration, other organs, reproductive system, and fetal development. 
The exhibits were incredible. The attention to detail was like a drawing in Grey’s Anatomy and every body part was labeled well. The plaques explaining what we were looking at were straight forward and satisfies those of us that weren’t looking for the gory details, as well as others who wanted to know everything!!
My favorite part was the circulatory system room. They painted the arteries red and veins blue and displayed them for various body parts and organs. I had no idea how complex and numerous the arteries were – there were so many arteries, you could tell exactly what body part you were looking at since it took the exact shape of a leg, arm, colon, etc.
There was also an intact nervous system (brain and eyes included) that was laid out on a table – a great way to understand more about nerves. Rooms such as respiration and reproduction (and others) held many specimens with interesting pathology: lung cancer, kidney stones, breast cancer, and goiters. There was even a box for smokers to trash their cigarettes after seeing the effects of their smoking!
However, I must add that things got very difficult for me once we hit the fetal development exhibit. My husband and I haven’t had children yet, but even still, the sight of fetuses from only a few weeks was almost too much to handle. One part even had a pregnant mother with a 24 week old baby. At this point, it was very hard to forget all of the exhibits were once alive.
If you’re teaching a biology or anatomy class, I would highly recommend taking a trip to the Bodies Exhibit. However, think carefully about who your students are. Sensitive students may not be able to handle the exhibit, especially considering each part once was alive (or part of a living human). This was undeniable when we notice finger and toe nails, lips, and hairy skin.
I am certainly glad I went to the Bodies Exhibition, but for me, that will probably my only trip there!!
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