A kid’s-eye view of ‘Body Worlds’

Posted 4/15/10

Have a heart. The real blood-pumping human organism is the star of “Body Worlds & The Story of the Heart,” a current exhibit at the Denver …

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A kid’s-eye view of ‘Body Worlds’


Have a heart.

The real blood-pumping human organism is the star of “Body Worlds & The Story of the Heart,” a current exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

This follow-up to the popular “Body Worlds” of several years ago features more than 200 authentic human specimens — not to mention those of a cat, chicken and other animal life.

“Body Worlds” reveals — through lenses of anatomy, cardiology, psychology and culture — how a four-chambered muscle nourishes, regulates and sustains life. The effects of lifestyle choices have been among the most eye-catching and sometimes life-changing aspects of the two exhibits.

The life’s blood of “Body Worlds” is Dr. Gunther von Hagens, a pioneer in the field of anatomy and anatomical exhibitions. Von Hagens invented “plastination,” a groundbreaking technique that halts decomposition in order to preserve specimens for scientific education.

Bodily fluids and fat are essentially extracted from the bodies during plastination and are replaced with reactive resins. Specimens are then “cured” with light, heat or gases that give them rigidity and permanence.

Specimens have come through the Institute for Plastination's body-donation program. All agreed before death that their bodies could be displayed for public education.

Each “plastinate” is posed to show different anatomical features. For example, athletic poses illustrate the use of muscle systems.

“Body Worlds” has been viewed by more than 30 million people around the world, but the museum has cautiously recommended the exhibit only for children in fifth grade and above.

To test the gross factor and the educational value, I took my 8-year-old Englewood third-grader anyway. David enjoyed the exhibit — and tolerated our conversation about it.

CCN: So do you think “Body Worlds” is OK for kids your age?

David: It wasn’t disgusting because they were dry and stuff. Usually, it’s wet when you die. It gave me more knowledge about bodies.

CCN: Like what?

David: The heart’s not shaped like a heart.

CCN: Did they look real?

David: No. At first, I thought they were plastic.

I vote for third grade and above.

CCN: Would this exhibit be important for kids to see?

David: Yes, so they can learn about bodies, because they have a body. There’s a lot of things in the body. The heart is one of the most important things. It pumps blood.

CCN: Before this exhibit, did you know how important the heart is?

David: No.

CCN: Was this better than learning about the body in a book?

David: Yeah, ’cause it’s visual.

CCN: So are books.

David: I know, but this is live.

CCN: No, they were dead.

David: (laughs) I know. But [at Body Worlds], you can see it in that second.

CCN: Would you be willing to donate your body for plastination?

David: No, because I would be made fun of the next day at school.

If you go

“Body Worlds & The Story of the Heart “ will be on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2000 Colorado Blvd., through July 18.

The exhibit is open daily Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until 9:00 p.m.

Admission is by timed-ticketing. Advance tickets are highly recommended. For more information, visit dmns.org or call 303-870-6000.


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