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Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

On Sunday, I celebrated Mother’s Day by taking my Mom to the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa to see the Body Worlds and the Story of the Heart exhibit.  Having seen photos, I knew it would be interesting and well, kinda cool, but I wasn’t expecting to be blown away. 

I was totally blown away. 

I seriously recommend seeing this exhibit should it come your way. Florida residents, you have only until the end of June and then it’s gone.  San Diego you have until October and Berlin and London until August.  Go!  It’s worth the price, I promise.

If you aren’t familiar with Body Worlds it is an exhibit consisting of entire human bodies, sans skin and or organs and positioned so you can see muscle and skeletal systems, sometimes with sections flayed open to look further inside.  It’s like a 3d anatomy book made of real human bodies.  In addition, there are preserved organs and organ systems and these awesome transparent body slices on display.  Everything is authentic and thus unique, unlike a mere model.  The way each body is positioned and well, sliced open is incredibly artistic, educational and rather beautiful.

The process of plastination, patented and created by Body Worlds founder Dr. Gunther von Hagen, is responsible for preserving the specimens and allowing them to be displayed in this unique way.  They are able to remove fats and skin and anything else they want to remove and preserve what they want visible, position and pose the body and then harden it into a permanent anatomical sculpture.  Learn more about plastination here.

Anyway, it was a great way to spend Mother’s Day.  MOSI gave mom’s a free pass (much to my pocket’s delight), so perhaps they will do the same for Father’s Day.  It’ll save you a small fortune, so if you are a Dad or think your father might dig it, you might want to look into that.  I got the pass that included the IMAX theater and the little planetarium, both which were nice, but nothing compared to the exhibit.  Another way to save is to see Body Worlds After Dark where you pay around 19 bucks if you go after 5 or 6 pm. 

I couldn’t take pictures, so I had to scour all over to make up some little photo montage’s of the actual exhibit I saw as there are around 4 of them.  Here you go…

First is the ‘Star Warrior’ – one of my favorite whole body plastinates.  He’s sort of winking at you which makes me giggle and I love the stipey panels of skin left on.  Also pictured are transparent slices of human hands and a figure skating female plastinate.  Awesome.


Next up are more plastinates to wow you….


Okay, the rooster was there, but not the bunny, unless I missed it.  But, it’s my favorite!  The plastination process is applied on only the blood vessel system and the rest of the body is melted off in acid, leaving this incredible intricate web of red. Check it out…

blood vessel bunny

The mother and child camel plastinates were perhaps the most jaw dropping, what with the size of the beautiful beasts and the method of leaving some skin and hair sections in tact, exposing muscle and skeleton in other sections and in yet other areas, opening it up all the way to show organs.  You could see the sheafs of grain in her belly and stuff. Not to mention the head and neck are vertically severed to display three slices and each slice is positioned to suggest movement.  It’s as though the creature is grazing or dipping down for a drink, except she’s doing it with only one slice of her head at a time.  


Finally a photo of our hero Gunther von Hagens who is a doctor, scientist, inventor, educator and yes, an artist whose medium just so happens to be cadavers.


I’m glad I didn’t let my mother’s looming tumor surgery prevent me from taking her out for a day of fun with dead bodies and organs.  We even got to see tumors and smoker’s lungs and all sorts of interesting abnormalities.  The black lungs would have been a downer had I not quit just over two weeks ago.  (Yay, me!)  Anyway, she’s crazy about science and can sit and watch surgeries on t.v. (not me), so it was the perfect outing.  I hope you enjoyed the photos and will be sure to go see the real thing if you get the opportunity.

Haiku time.  You can base them on this week’s comic, as usual, or use the exhibit topic and/or photos for inspiration.  I’m certainly not fussy.

<3 calan

17 Responses to “confession”

  1. matthew Says:

    HA! I get to be the first one this time, hehe.

    I had thought that art would disturb me a little but it is really fascinating and presented wonderfully. I doubt this will ever come anywhere closer to me than San Diego but if it does i will certainly check it out.

    Glad you two had a great time. I couldn’t do anything but send flowers to my mom this year. Too far away. It bums me out when i can’t be there for it.

    You sneak into my bedroom
    I pretend to sleep

  2. Seraphine Says:

    i hate not being able to photograph. i usually avoid places that don’t allow photographs. it’s like saying you can’t have a drink when you are thirsty.
    if i have to, i’ll sneak my camera into the venue and take sneak photographs. people sometimes get angry, but i don’t believe that whole stealing your soul thing.
    respect the dead. respect the living too. and the in-betweens.

    point the camera
    at the center of the heart
    to stop the beatings

    oh! and i love this weeks comic, calan. but if anyone touched my face while i was sleeping, i’d wake up immediately.

    whispering bzz bzz
    touching your nose with finger
    in your sleep slap face

  3. Seraphine Says:

    *waves* hi matthew!
    i love that whole pretend-to-sleep thing too.

  4. Monkeybones Says:

    You sometimes seem to have a kind of psychic connection with my everyday happenings. I studied Gunther Von Hagens for my Art exam last week, and I was talking about plastination with one of my technology teachers this afternoon. I haven’t been to a Bodyworlds exhibition yet, but it’s on my list of stuff to do before I die.

    Non-renewable friends
    recycled from cadavers
    ironic in death.

  5. Chimera Dragonfang Says:

    plastination fun
    hardening ooze fills bodies
    I see your insides

    That is one exibit I really want to see. It was at the Ontario Science Centre two/three years ago but I didn’t get the opportunity to go.

  6. coolioness Says:

    …I want to see it. I want to see it NOW.

    So I’m using Strength Through Music for my School Violence presentation. (I GET TO SHOW MY ENTIRE ENGLISH CLASS THE WORLD OF AMANDA PALMER.) *Yay!*

    You lick my forehead,
    But what you don’t notice is
    My “sleeping” smile.

  7. calan Says:

    thanks to all of you for the haiku and comments 🙂 more please!

    Monkeybones and Coolio – i think you two just gave the best endorsements for staying in school without even trying. Amanda Palmer music in a presentation and studying sexy corpse art. I totally miss college.

    Sera – yes. completely bogus. it’s about money, i’m suspect and not respect for the dead. lets say i took awesome images with my super fancy camera that i wish i totally dont have but wish it did.. i could sell prints, make posters, journals, whatever and sell them in my etsy store, lol. that’s my guess, but who knows. i was definitely bummed but i knew the no camera thing before i went so it wasn’t as horrible as finding out mid-snap.

    i must admit that blood vessel bunny would make an awfully cool easter card.

  8. Ghoul Friday Says:

    If my local museums were like this, I would by far more cultured.

  9. calan Says:

    if you were made of yogurt, you’d be even more cultured.

    nice to see you here Ghoul Friday!

    readers – check out her site ( http://www.GhoulFriday.com ) for a frequent dose of creepy wonderful stuff to check out or follow Ghoul Friday on twitter. That’s where i found her. 🙂

  10. Karen Says:

    I am so in awe
    of this “plastination” stuff —
    science rocks my socks.

    And as for the comic:

    Moving quietly,
    I whisper things in your ear
    to mess with your dreams.

  11. anne van atta Says:

    Good (early) morning Calan,

    I’m suffering yet again from after-gig insomnia (and a touch of the flu this time, trying to deny it, but here it is, hello–cough, cough…)

    I saw the original bodyworks show @mosi several years ago and was utterly amazed; I plan on visiting the new one as well…how cool that you could share this with your mom– I send her my continued best wishes; Jim told me her surgery was today and that all went well…

    As remarkable as Gunther von Hagan’s work is, strangely enough he’s not the first to delve deeply into the mysteries of the body– way back around 1765, an anatomist named Honore Fragonard preceded him in a very similar vein! ( In 1771 he lost his position as a veterinary professor when he was declared mad….) here’s a link:


    So there really is nothing new under the moon and sun!

    unexpected worlds
    death and beauty lie entwined
    skull beneath the skin

    blood-red bunny hops
    I think dear Ennui would love
    such a special friend

    when my time has come
    it would be quite wonderful
    to be so displayed

    sneak into my room
    you only thought I was asleep
    I felt everything

    Love, Anne

  12. calan Says:

    in the renaissance days, etc. there was a wave of anatomical cadaver-icious displays, usually in like the market square and universities. i also remember watching a show on the origins of frankenstein and much of what was in shelly’s book was based on the spirit of the times. her boyfriend was in the medical field and made her privvy to experiments on reanimating human parts by scientists and doctors that really thought they might be on the path to ‘curing’ death. it’s all very fascinating! anyway, awesome link anne. i really didn’t know there was anything so similar to gunther’s work and similar it is! the horse one is very much like a rearing horse plastination at one of the other Body Worlds shows.

    thanks karen and anne for the multitude of haiku <3 !

  13. Chance Abattoir Says:

    Ennui must have a salt deficiency.

  14. Gabe Says:

    I’m suddenly hungry.

  15. Masked Noir Says:

    Aww, how sweet.

    True love is best shown
    through things that may seem creepy
    but are really cute

  16. calan Says:

    welcome Masked Noir and thanks for the sweet haiku 🙂

    quick note – if you guys accidentally use Ennui’s old name in your comments, i’m going to edit it for you. it takes time to get used to, i know.

    back to work i go! i’m trying to get client stuff out of the way so i can finish tomorrow’s comic in time.

  17. tania Says:

    this is creepy but also interfiesting because it shows the body without skin

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