Several years ago I took my son to see the Body Worlds exhibit. He was 11 years old. Three days ago I took my 9-year-old to see the exhibition at the Arizona Science Center (www.azscience.org). Friends have asked me if I think the display is appropriate for kids. That I can’t answer for you, as that is truly a decision for each individual family to decide for themselves. But I can tell you my opinion of the exhibit and about my kids’ reactions.
BODY WORLDS & The Brain (www.bodyworlds.com) is on display at the Arizona Science Center through March 27th. Dr. Gunther von Hagens’ world-famous exhibition shows an inside-view of the human body. With over 200 authentic human specimens preserved in a process called Plastination, the bodies look more like mannequins, which made my kids feel comfortable to view.
One benefit for my kids is that healthy versus diseased organs are shown, highlighting the importance of making good choices when it comes to diet and exercise. Seeing the exhibit truly hit that point home with my children.
However, parents take note…exposed genitals are shown on some of the bodies. That was a surprise to me and my kids noticed and commented on that fact!
The Body Worlds website says that specimens on display stem from the Institute for Plastination’s unique body donation program, which von Hagens began in 1983. There are more than 9,000 body donors on the Institute’s body donation roster.
When my kids wanted to know where the bodies came from, I told them about the donation roster.
So, for me, I was comfortable walking with my children through the exhibit. However, I do recommend visiting the Arizona Science Center website (www.azscience.org) to see photos of the exhibit and read more information, so that you can make an informed decision for your own family.
For more information about the Body Worlds exhibit currently on display at the Arizona Science Center, visit www.azscience.org. The official Body Worlds site can be accessed at www.bodyworlds.com.
I think children sometimes are a lot less freaked out by dead bodies than we think they are. I remember debating whether or not I should take my son to an open casket funeral of a close relative when he was four. I figured he would be freaked out and scarred for life. He actually handled it quite well. He was more curious than anything else. I think we know our children better than anyone else and whether or not they can handle the exhibit.
I visited the Body World exhibit in St. Louis a few years ago and decided that it was bar none the most interesting and beautiful thing I had seen in my life. I shortly thereafter went through the process of becoming a donor. My personal belief is that no matter what your views of the human body are, this exhibit is a prime example of what schools could be teaching. It’s an up close and personal view of what we are literally made of, and how it functions. It is undeniably a graphic medium, but in this day and age you would be hard pressed to go to the movies and not see a naked body. I think it may just open up a healthy discussion with children about our bodies, there is no shame in your biology. I personally did bring my daughter along to the exhibit and she was quite amazed at the inner workings of the human body, along with the other varied animals on display. My family also has embraced the fact that Gunther is going to work his magic on me someday and make me a part of his display. Can’t say I’m in a hurry, but I’m really excited to be a part of his insightful look at the human mechanism.