‘Bodies’ exhibition spotlights anatomy

September 23rd, 2010

Whether students are science majors, anatomy gurus, or just plain interested in the makeup of our human figure, “Bodies… The Exhibition” may be the exhibit to see to learn more about the machines humans inhabit.

Currently residing in downtown Cleveland, the exhibit focusing solely on the human form is one of the 12 showings throughout the country.  

Dissected cadavers, individual body parts, and intricate poses are the main attractions of the exhibition, whose central purpose is education through the use of the flayed and plasticized figures.

“With 12 full-body specimens and 250 organs, the exhibit strives to educate visitors of the importance of knowing about and caring for one’s body,” said Alisa Mahan, education outreach coordinator for the exhibit. 

The exhibit allows its visitors to explore the various systems of the body, getting up close to the specimens to view systems, some of which include the muscular, urinary and reproductive system.

The various bodies located throughout the exhibit come from persons who lived in China and died from natural causes. 

“The specimens were dissected and preserved in China, as the Chinese are known to be some of the best dissectors in the world,” said Mahan. 

Undergoing the process of “Polymer Preservation,” the bodies are first dissected with a chemical to prevent decay and then dismembered to highlight specific organs and systems of the body. 

According to Mahan, the tissue is then filled with acetone, and the bodies are placed in a vacuum of silicone.  As the acetone gases release from the dried tissue, the silicone replaces the acetone. 

Once completed, the bodies are still bendable, so they can be positioned into the poses one sees when walking through the galleries. “They then go through a hardening process,” she said. 

In addition to the 12 full body specimens and 250 organs are five human embryos and seven fetuses at differing stages of development.

A side-by-side display of healthy versus smoke-blackened lungs as well as a woman’s breast affected by cancer show guests the detrimental effects that can harm one’s body.

“It is important to see how miraculous the body is and what can happen to it without proper care and maintenance, considering some of the leading causes of death are preventable,” said Mahan.

With a Student I.D. students will be able to purchase a ticket for $18 to experience the in-depth look into multiple systems of the human body, allowing them to, according to Mahan, grasp a unique experience.

“[Bodies] provides an experience and knowledge that cannot be obtained in the classroom from a textbook or plastic models,” she said.  “Neither of those, [unlike “Bodies”] offer the anatomical differences unique to each human body nor do they display disease.”

“Bodies…The Exhibition” is located on 4th and Euclid and is scheduled to remain open through the end of October.  For more information, visit