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Body Worlds


I was gently asked – nay, begged, by my friend Rachel to do something “touristy” while she was in town over the weekend. In addition to the tours of the dumpster and other assorted places I’d once gotten wasted, I decided it was probably time to actually bother doing something annoyingly touristy. Like stop in the middle of the sidewalk and stare at the tall buildings while making comments about “these here tall buildings.”

However, staring at buildings is only really fun when you’re wasted and they’re swaying because YOU’RE swaying and then you vomit on the shoes of a businessman wandering past you.

I figured it was time to break from tradition and do something awesome, rather than sitting on my couch, watching dancing cat videos. Also: I was afraid Rachel was going to beat my ass.

So I packed the three of us into the old Family Truckster and navigated our way downtown, while fantasizing about how wicked it would be to have “Slasher” as my license plate rather than some letters and numbers. Because, obviously.

We ended up at the Museum of Science and Industry, which is probably MY happiest place on earth (with exception to the Hardware Store, which always trumps all). Like the auto show and Chinatown, it’s a place I’ve been going since I was a wee lass and somewhere I’m always proud to show off to non-locals.

Of course, we showed up an hour before closing. I’m excellent at timing things, Pranksters. Like I should win a medal at it.

And, as per usual, I immediately dragged them up to the anatomy exhibits, because, well, I’d rather swallow my tongue that hear ANY MORE about earth science.

When I showed up there, looking for the gigantic walk-through heart, I saw that the museum had acquired a number of the exhibits from Body Worlds, that traveling exhibition of preserved human bodies prepared using plastination to preserve the anatomical structures.

If you know my great love for anatomy, you’re probably all, “ZOMG AB, THAT SOUNDS FULL OF THE AWESOME!” And I really, really, really want nothing more than to agree with you. That I love looking at these bodies, so beautifully preserved for all to see. For ALL to fall in love with anatomy as I did so many years ago.

But you’d be wrong.

There’s something, I think, macabre about the whole thing. While I love looking at the circulatory system, so neatly preserved and lifelike, there’s something inherently creepy about seeing a dead guy riding a skateboard. Even if I can see the glorious muscular system in use just as it was when he was alive (presuming, of course, that he’d ever ridden a skateboard before).

I recall the day that my anatomy teacher asked me to help with the dissection of our cadaver. It did not bother me to see someone dead, someone preserved in formalin, or someone who once had hopes, dreams, and loved just as I did. No. What bothered me was that he had a shunt in his left leg left intact from the paramedics attempting to save his life.

It dawned on me, as I was examining the circus-like Body Worlds exhibits, that we who count ourselves among the living simply do not want to think of our dead as like us.

It brings it all too close to home, I think.

And while I learned many fascinating tidbits while at the MSI – my liver, for example, is a mere three years old – I walked out of there ruminating about the freakish sideshow of Body Worlds.

My hope is that the Body Worlds exhibits inspire a young crop of anatomists much like I was inspired, as a wee tot, by the mere pictures of the body from an old copy of Grey’s Anatomy.

Otherwise, we’re going to have some seriously fucked up serial killers out there.

33 Comments to

“Body Worlds”

  1. On November 7th, 2011 at 1:28 pm Pete In Az Says:

    When I was there, in Chic ago, we went to the Field Museum. All I got to see was a bunch’a roots and worms and stuff. Dead guys sounds a lot more fun.

    Ex-cep, so I’m bent, not broken.

  2. On November 7th, 2011 at 5:25 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    That’s a pretty rad museum too. Prolly my second favorite. COME VISIT.

  3. On November 7th, 2011 at 1:34 pm Lovely Simulacrum Says:

    I went to one of these exhibits and was pretty fascinated by it until my friend’s 11 year old son kept screaming: “That looks like PEPPERONI! No, SALAMI!”

    He continued to do this at EVERY.SINGLE.EXHIBIT.

    People were a little weirded out, but I think that’s because his loud commentary was making them hungry in a most unlikely setting. 😉

  4. On November 7th, 2011 at 5:25 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    I will never eat again 😉

  5. On November 7th, 2011 at 1:39 pm Missy Says:


  6. On November 7th, 2011 at 5:25 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:


  7. On November 7th, 2011 at 1:55 pm DiatribesAndOvations Says:

    I, too, enjoy the MSI as a child and will never forget the row of jars containing human fetuses at various stages of development. That was plenty gross for me … I’ll skip this new exhibit because, like you, it’s macabre (and yucky, too).

  8. On November 7th, 2011 at 5:26 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:


    No shit. It was fucked up.

  9. On November 7th, 2011 at 2:05 pm Tricia Says:

    I am a little obsessed with anatomy myself and was able to see the Body Worlds exhibit when it was at the Milwaukee Public Museum a couple years ago. It was beyond amazing! I have been meaning to visit the Museum of Science and Industry for awhile. Now you have given me another reason to get my ass there 🙂

  10. On November 7th, 2011 at 5:26 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    OOOH! Holler when you do. I’d LOVE to meet you!

  11. On November 7th, 2011 at 2:36 pm Chrisinphx Says:

    Oh man, I miss the MSI the most of all the museum choices. The Phx Science museum is about the size of the MSI’s coat closet and LAME.
    They did have the Body Worlds exhibit roll through a few years ago Im a little surprised that it creeps you out, I was totally in awe of it all

  12. On November 7th, 2011 at 5:26 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    I’m a little surprised it creeps me out, too!

  13. On November 7th, 2011 at 2:44 pm Rae Says:

    I love the BodyWorlds exhibit, but then again, I’m a wee bit odd. And I have to credit MSI with my facination of human biology. I remember going there on a field trip when I was about 12 and seeing the body slices and fetuses at different stages of development, and I’ve been hooked on the nerdy, gross stuff ever since.

    God, I’m a huge nerd.

  14. On November 7th, 2011 at 5:27 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    OMG. Are you local? we should HANG if you are.

  15. On November 7th, 2011 at 3:46 pm Lynda M O Says:

    Ain’t it great being a nerd in a society so wrapped up in superficial shit ?~! I rock my intellectual status no matter the job.

  16. On November 7th, 2011 at 5:27 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    I love you. Hard.

  17. On November 7th, 2011 at 3:51 pm Lisa Says:

    I’m still pissed about the Giant Walk-Through Heart. Did you at least go through the coal mine? I’m from the SoIll and that was the shit back in the day, doing in a museum what our grandfathers did every damn day of their lives.

  18. On November 7th, 2011 at 5:27 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Dude. WTF happened to that heart? It was only the best thing ever!

  19. On November 7th, 2011 at 5:05 pm Joules Says:

    Zomfgs, I loved MSI! A place with a mine shaft, live chickens where you’re *encouraged* to touch everything? Heaven.
    I saw Body Worlds in Portland a few years ago and thought it was rad. Def a little creepy, but so interesting. But I have never been exposed to human innards in any other environment and I could see how someone who was all doctor-y and dissection-y could find it less about the anatomy and more about the freak show.

  20. On November 7th, 2011 at 5:28 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    It’s AMAZING now. You need to come for a visit (to see me) and to see the changes! It’s gotten SO MUCH AWESOMER.

  21. On November 7th, 2011 at 5:35 pm Carol Says:

    Love body worlds, when it was here in Utah I wanted to go see it everyday. I wonder why my friends stopped calling?

  22. On November 7th, 2011 at 5:54 pm AmyBlam Says:

    I am already, despite having given birth unconscious (as intended) am terrified of pregnant people. Pretty sure I’m going to have nightmares for weeks.

  23. On November 7th, 2011 at 6:05 pm Roshni Says:

    that last pic was gross!!! Good idea about reaching there an hour before closing! I would probably time it to half an hour next time!

  24. On November 7th, 2011 at 8:05 pm Hi, I'm Natalie Says:

    I was trying to get pregnancy when we went… I just couldn’t handle the pregnancy room. But the whole thing was pretty wild…

  25. On November 7th, 2011 at 8:46 pm Jaime Says:

    I’ve wanted to see that for years, but have yet to actually go to see it when its in town…. I’m jealous!

  26. On November 7th, 2011 at 9:57 pm Meg Says:

    Ew. My husband keeps trying to talk me into going. I don’t think I’d sleep for months after that, Too creepy.

    I awarded you a blogger award n junk on mah blog. 🙂

  27. On November 8th, 2011 at 9:20 am Wombat Central Says:

    Uh mah gah. We had some form of that body exhibit at our science museum, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t SKATEBOARDING and SHOWING OFF THEIR BAZOOMS AND BABEHS. That’s like science meets effed up performance art. And, yet, strangely I’d like to see more pictures. What the hell is wrong with me?

  28. On November 8th, 2011 at 9:21 am Mrs D-Zo Says:

    The Body Worlds exhibit is total creep fest. The poses are way too relatable…dancing ballet, riding horses, but dead…no thanks.

    Luckily, I saw the exhibit with a girlfriend who is as classy as me and would routinely exclaim “I can see his butt hairs!!!”

  29. On November 8th, 2011 at 10:27 am Suniverse Says:

    I don’t ever remember being in that position when I was pregnant, so I certainly do not want myself bent into that shape if I ever die [I DO NOT WANT MY PLUG PULLED] [I tend to get this out wherever I can, so that there is NO MISTAKING THAT I WANT TO BE ON LIFE SUPPORT FOREVER, THANK YOU].

    When can I come visit?

  30. On November 8th, 2011 at 1:08 pm Debbie Says:

    So the pregnant woman brings very creepy images to mind — first, who skinned her? Secondly, how big WAS the deli slicer that they put her on?
    *inspiring nightmares everywhere*

  31. On November 8th, 2011 at 1:13 pm Rachel of the Cosmos Says:

    I had fun! Also: The buildings are really tall.

  32. On November 8th, 2011 at 5:02 pm Kim Says:

    The human cabinet! I’ve taken my gentleman to Body worlds several times and he hasn’t seen that particular exhibit (I saw it in Chicago). awesome.

  33. On August 15th, 2012 at 7:47 pm Alice Says:

    If these were really donated dead people, it wouldn’t bother me so much (though you have to wonder why they are playing tennis and riding horses—they’re dead. That’s sick). In fact, they are actually the bodies of murdered prisoners of conscience from the communist China secret, underground murder-your-fellow-man-to-frighten-the-populace-and-make-a-buck political system.

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