Body Worlds brings anatomy to life

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Written By: Ryan Pitkin
CPCC student

Dr. Gunther von Hagens, anatomist and creator of Discovery Place’s BODYWORLDS exhibit, visited the exhibit on Sept. 26, one day after Discovery Place announced they will be extending its time there until Jan. 6, 2008.

BODYWORLDS: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies opened June 13. It uses Dr. von Hagens invention, Plastination, to show viewers the insides of actual human bodies and organs that were given to the exhibit by donors.

The exhibit, which has been shown as far away as Japan and Germany, was put together in a new way that focuses on bodies in motion and in thought for its Charlotte opening, said Dr. von Hagens. “The positive response has encouraged me to now to do many more of the emotional specimens,” he said.

Dr. von Hagens is also now focusing on more specimens using animals, he said, after seeing how popular some of the ones presently being shown are. The one he is most proud of, The Horse and Rider, is also one of the most popular. This specimen shows the muscles, skeletons and organs of both a man and the horse he is riding. This model took Dr. von Hagens three years to make, he said.

Physicians with the Carolinas Medical Center are also helping with the exhibit, staffing a help desk within it so that visitors can ask any questions they have to an actual medical professional. Kristy Lampe, a representative at the desk, said she was calling it the “Yes, you can touch it” desk, because she had specimens such as lungs and a liver you could actually feel.

“By the time visitors get to this stage they just really want to touch something,” said Lampe of her desk near the end of the exhibit. “The fun comes from feeling the different weight of an air organ such as the lung and a solid organ like the liver,” she said.

A lot of students and teachers alike who come from all around for field trips or just family trips have been very impressed with the exhibit. The comment book near the exit is filled with words like “fascinating” and “spectacular.”

One of the main reasons Dr. van Hagens said he created this exhibit was so that people would take more interest in their biology and live healthier and longer, and many people are doing that. “It gives the students appreciation for their bodies and teaches them the difference between health and disease and how it effects them,” said Don Winters, a pediatrician who was chaperoning a field trip there.

Cody Eanes, a student visiting from Martinsville, VA, was very impressed with the exhibit. “It’s pretty spectacular, learning about how these things work in everyday life. I want to tell the people who haven’t seen this exhibit about certain health effects I’ve seen,” he said.

Now as BODYWORLDS has been extended to stay in Charlotte until January 2008, and Dr. von Hagens is in discussions with other locations in the Southeast to show his work, he continues to build on his exhibit, such as the giraffe and elephant he is currently working on. “He’s really observant,” says Nadine Diwersi, his personal assistant of 4 years, “He sometimes will be walking in New York and get an idea from a billboard. Not one idea like the other.”