Human cadavers take over Sunset Place!

What could be more exciting than spending a few hours looking at dead bodies? Not just any dead bodies, but the cadavers on display at Bodies.The Exhibition at Sunset Place.

The exhibition features 21 whole-body specimens and more than 260 various body parts that have been preserved and dissected.

The exhibition is divided into rooms according to body systems. While the muscular system room features human corpses arranged in poses best representative of muscle use – a soccer player in mid-kick for example – the nervous system room highlights a cadaver conducting music. There are also rooms dedicated to the digestive, urinary and respiratory systems, among others. The circulatory system room used a special process which dissolved the entire body except for the blood vessels, and bodies were then reconstructed only using the blood vessels in efforts to show what parts of the body receives the most blood flow.

There is also a reproductive system room and a (more controversial) fetal-development room.

The cadavers are just that, dead bodies dissected at different levels depending on what is trying to be displayed. While some are just skeletons, others have been dissected to reveal body tissue, fat, muscles and internal organs. In the opening room of the exhibit there is a skeleton holding hands with its reconstructed muscular system. it leaves you seeing double.

It was during the Roman era when scientists first began to practice dissection on human cadavers. Centuries later, Bodies.The Exhibition uses polymer preservation to sustain and dissect the bodies so that they not only last indefinitely, but lose any smell and are able to be put on display for eager minds.

The process first begins by preserving the body by standard mortuary science. The body is then dissected to represent what is trying to be displayed and the specimen is then immersed in acetone (which eliminates all body water) and placed in a tub of silicone, or polymer, and sealed in a vacuum chamber. In the vacuum, the acetone will leave the body and be rereplaced by the polymer (basically a liquid silicone rubber) during a process called impregnation. With the addition of a catalyst, the specimen will harden and the process is complete.

The bodies used in the exhibition died from natural causes and came through the Dalian Medical University Plastination Laboratories in the People’s Republic of China.

University of Michigan professor and chief medical director of the University’s Medical School Polymer Preservation Laboratory, Dr. Roy Glover serves as the Chief Medical Advisor and spokesman of the exhibition. He claims that the exhibition was designed with one important purpose in mind: education.

Now the dissected human body is not only reserved for medical students locked up in their laboratories, but open to everyone, so that they can see the effects of everyday life on the human body and gain a better understanding of how the body works.

Bodies.The Exhibition has taken over the former Virgin Megastore at Sunset Place and will run from September 2006 to March 25, 2007. There is no photography allowed and cell phone use is strictly prohibited. The exhibition opens at 10am daily and plan to leave one to two hours to complete the viewing of the exhibition. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.bodiestheexhibition.com.

Bari Lieberman can be contacted at b.lieberman@umiami.edu.

November 10, 2006


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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