People who saw the ‘Body Worlds' ten years ago could not forget it because they were shocked by it. The original exhibition of ‘Body Worlds’ is being held again in Korea. It is renowned for having set a record of 33 million visitors around the world. What makes a lot of people want to see it and what lessons is it trying to give us?
What is the ‘Body Worlds’?
The BODY WORLDS exhibition is the only exhibition through which viewers learn about anatomy and health by viewing real human bodies that were processed by the method of plastination. The sort of specimens includes whole bodies, individual organs, and thin body slices. The exhibition also allows visitors to see and understand the long term impact of diseases, the harmful effects of tobacco intake, and the mechanics of artificial supports such as knees and hips. Ever since the exhibition started in Japan in 1995, it has been introduced to many cities in Europe, North America, and Asia. In Korea, 10 years after its original showing, it’s back.
Observing the points of the ‘Body Worlds’
To understand our body
First, all specimens on display are authentic. They belong to people who declared during their lifetime that their bodies could be made available and be displayed after their deaths; not only for physicians but also attendances. By donating their bodies, they hoped their bodies could be useful and helpful to others even after their death. Their selfless donations allow us to gain unique insights into human bodies. Therefore, we should thank the living and dead body donors.
- What is Plastination?
Body plastination was first invented by Dr. Von Hagens who was an anatomist in 1977. Plastination is a method to preserve bodies permanently so that the specimens look realistic. Water and fats of the bodies are removed and they are filled with silicon rubber and synthetic resins such as polyether, so they look like real.
-The Process of Plastination
The process of plastination, removing water and fat from the tissue and replacing them with polymers, eradicates bacteria. However, bodily fluids cannot be replaced directly with polymers, because the two are chemically incompatible. Gunther Von Hagens found a way to solve this problem.
1. Embalming and Anatomical Dissection
The first step of the process involves pumping formalin into the body through the arteries. Formalin kills all bacteria and chemically stops the decay of tissue. Using dissection tools, the skin, fatty and connective tissues are removed to prepare the individual anatomical structures.
2. Removal of Body Fat and Water
In the first step, the body water and soluble fats are dissolved from the body by placing it into a solvent such as an acetone.
3. Forced Impregnation
This second exchange process is the central step in plastination. During forced impregnation a reactive polymer replaces the acetone. To achieve this, the specimen is immersed in a polymer solution and placed in a vacuum chamber. The vacuum removes the acetone from the specimen and helps the polymer to penetrate cells.
After vacuum impregnation, the body is positioned as needed. Every single anatomical structure is properly aligned and fixed with the help of wires, needles, clamps, and foam blocks.
5. Curing (Hardening)
In the final step, the specimen is hardened. Depending on the polymer used, this is done with gas, light, or heat. Dissection and plastination of an entire body requires about 1,500 working hours and normally takes about one year to complete.
When we see the organs that compose our body, we feel a sense of marvel and awe as to what our bodies offer us. During Science class, we all saw pictures of lungs, stomachs, and kidneys in our textbooks. Actually seeing these organs stirs up significant feelings and leaves a deep impression. For example, people normally do not know how many nerves work together to form one action. However, the exhibition allows viewers to learn what we should know about our own bodies. The mystery around our body arouses curiosity in many viewers. This exhibition will be very interesting to those who have a special interest the composition of the human body. Of course, it serves a purpose of education. Furthermore, it can satisfy our curiosity.
To live a disease free life.
By showing the typical diseases in each system of our body such as nervous, digestive, reproductive, circulatory system, it teaches us the causes of diseases and the importance of preventing diseases. When we were young, we were just told to not smoke and drink. Once we see the organs polluted with serious disease directly, we will automatically understand that our parents were not just nagging. On seeing the lung that is damaged by tobacco, we will have a lot to learn from it. Seeing the opposite result of bad and good health habits, we can decide how we should live the rest of our lives. The exhibition gives us a lesson on how we should manage our body in the future.
at Body Worlds.
There were so many people, not only Koreans but also foreigners. Since the exhibition is composed of real bodies, we should be quiet and should behave in the exhibition. Because of that reason, children did not make much noise in the exhibition. Bodies from fetus to the old were displayed. Although every display was authentic, we couldn't but get the feeling that it was an imitation. The organs that have diseases were displayed as they were. The specimen across the section of the bust of a certain man was so realistic that people approached it and they let out an exclamation. It showed us the man's pores in the skin, tongue, nose, and throat cut in half. It seemed as though the man could come alive with the touch of our hands. In the exhibition, there were so many entire bodies like the fetus in his mother's belly that she is about to give birth. Besides, there were also displays of some specimens with poses of people playing a guitar and bouncing a basketball. It also showed the contractions and relaxation in the muscles as each display posed for an action. Therefore, the specimens in the exhibition showed that our bodies are full of wonder and mystery.
Why Should We Visit this Exhibition?
It is more important that we experience what we learn from professors and teachers in class. We are given vast amount of knowledge through a flood of information, but the things that are actually helpful to us are relatively little. In this kind of society, what we really need is reliable and selected information and knowledge.
Besides, through field trips, we can apply our knowledge to real life. On the premise that we are taught enough knowledge by our professors, if we think freely and share our opinions, we could find enlightenment and we could remember what we’ve learned well.
From elementary school on, our schools considered field trips as the most important event. In other words, field trips has had very important meaning for students. In fact, we used to think of the day of field trip as a holiday. Of course, field trips are not only important to elementary school, middle school, and high school students. It is still important to us even though we are now university students. That is to say, what we learn during 3 years equals what we would normally experience in 3 months. The acquisition of information is completed with faithful teaching and applying that information to real life.
The Exhibition will be open until March 8th next year in The War Memorial of Korea.(No.8, 1-ga Yongsan-dong, Yongsan-gu). It will be opened from 10a.m. to 6p.m. but will be closed every Monday. Babies over 36 months are allowed to enter Body Worlds.
If you go there by subway, you should get off in Exit 1 of Line 4 Samgakji Station and Exit 11 and 12 of Line 6 Samgakji Statio. If you go there by bus, you should get off in the front and the back of The War Mermorial in front of Defense department.
(Front gate : 110B. 730, 421 Samgakji station : 149, 150, 151, 152, 500, 501, 502, 504, 506, 507, 605, 750A, 750B, 751, 752, 6001).
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