Body worlds astounds a second time

Unless you were living in a hole for the last four years, you will remember Body Worlds. The controversial plastination exhibit was on display at the Telus World of Science in 2006.  It’s back again this year, and with a bit of a spin.

The official title of the exhibit is Body Worlds & The Brain.  It’s the same concept as before, except with new displays and features.  About 750 out of 1100 deceased donors are on display at the various exhibits around the world. The bodies are preserved using silicone rubber, which is currently the most durable polymer.

Dr. Gunther von Hagens is the person responsible for the exhibit.  He originally came up with the idea of plastination, which preserves bodies both artistically and scientifically. One of his students, Dr. Angelina Whalley, who eventually became his wife, joined him to bring her creative visions to the Body Worlds project.

Origianaly, Whalley was hesitant to commit to Von Hagens plastination endeavors in a scientific way. “I didn’t want to have my professional fate tied to the success or failure of his work,” she explains. Whalley later discovered her passion in the arts by seeing how the exhibit could grow artistically. She soon claimed her role in Body Worlds as the creative and conceptual designer.
Whalley’s job includes finding the most engaging way to display the models.  She wants to present the body in “a dramatic, memorable, beautiful way so that people can learn about anatomy, disease and health.” The creative design helps people to relate to the scientific elements, thus aiding in the popularity of the exhibit.  

Now, Body Worlds is not a small sensation.  It has seen 30 million visitors, in more than 50 cities across five continents.  It has become more than just intelligent scientists displaying their talents.  This has become an art: the art of plastination.  From every eyeball to toenail, endless hours of creativity go into how the audience perceives it.  It is up to Whalley to portray the emotion of a face or decide which stance is likely to impact people the most.

Body Worlds truly is bridging the gap between science and art.  Recently, Lady Gaga has expressed an interest in working on plastination with Von Hagens and Whalley. “To do something with an innovative and risk-taking artist like Lady Gaga would be a perfect meeting of boundary-pushing minds,” states Von Hagens.  “It would be a challenge for me to combine artistic performance with science in the sense of ‘science-art’ together with Lady Gaga.”  Keep your eyes peeled for Lady Gaga wearing a human plastination costume or something similar in the near future.

Whalley’s designs and layout of the exhibition have “made it the most sought out exhibition ever at the Telus World of Science,” says CEO Brain Tisdall.

The exhibit runs until the New Year, though Tisdall advises to go sooner rather than later because the crowds will become even thicker.  The Telus World of Science is currently undergoing a 39 million dollar renovation, which has been losing them money due to guests scared off by the loud machines.

It’s no surprise that the Telus World of Science has agreed to take this exhibition once again.  After 300,000 spectators coming to view the exhibit in 2006, it’s sure to rejuvenate their business. The new version of the show largely focuses on the brain, its development and diseases. It is both an art exhibit and a science exhibit, and is certainly worth checking out if you aren’t too squeamish.

//Jessica Perkins

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