The science of dissecting humans has always been left to the researchers, pathologists and medical students. But a new exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry cuts open the body for all to see. It's a stunning, up-close view of what lies beneath our skin.
"They were alive, and now they're not," says one museum goer.
"It was surprising," says another museum goer.
"They're like models. Like plastic models. But it's real," says a museum goer.
Each of these people are taking an amazing journey inside the body. It's called Body Worlds. What makes this in-your-face display of anatomy so different, so captivating is that these bodies at one time were alive.
"These people were dead. But that's not the element here. We don't see really see an emphasis on death here. It's really more life affirming," says Norm Lieska, Ph.D., an associate professor of Anatomy at the University of Illinois.
Dry, odorless, yet colorful . These sculptures live an afterlife dedicated to art and education.
"Life is beautiful, and even in death the body can be beautiful," says a museum goer.
Body Worlds is the creation of German doctor, Gunther Von Hagens. Over 25 years, he perfected a method to plasticize every vessel and every organ through an injection process he calls plastination. Perhaps the most powerful sculptures are those showing disease and self-destruction.
"They should come and see this to stop smoking or drinking," says a museum goer.
Smoking changes a healthy pair of lungs into a pair of blackened, shriveled lungs. Alcoholism changes a healthy liver into a shadow of its former self. And these slices reveal a new dimension to obesity.
"I don't want my body to look like that. I want my body to be healthy," says a museum goer.
Many have become inspired by this stunning fusion of art and science. So far, 6,000 people have offered to donate their bodies for future plastination projects.
Body Worlds is currently at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry where it runs through Sept. 5th. Body Worlds II, a newer version, opened in April in Cleveland.