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by Erika Haslup, Arts and Entertainment editor

“Captivating and edifying, Bodies—The Exhibition unveils the many complex systems, organs, and tissues that drive every aspect of our daily lives and unite us all as humans.”

Since it opened in June at Ala Moana Center, next to Nordstrom, Bodies—The Exhibition has attracted people of all ages. But it is not for the squeamish. Featuring more than 200 specimens—whole bodies and individual organs—it presents a meticulously dissected and preserved look at the inside—literally—of the human animal that will, as exhibition literature claims, enlighten, empower, fascinate, and inspire.

The process used to conserve the specimens, called polymer preservation, was developed by Dr. Roy Glover, chief medical director of one of the largest laboratories in North America that was capable of providing polymer preserved whole bodies and a regular supplier of these for medical study and research at the University of Michigan.

According to Premier Exhibitions, which developed the display, preparation times varies depending on the size of a specimen or organ. The polymer preservation process starts with dissection and the application of chemicals to temporarily stop decay. Water is removed from the specimen and is replaced with acetone. The specimen is then placed into a vacuum chamber with a liquid silicone mixture to which is later added a polymer mixture. The silicone polymer hardens and the specimen is perfectly preserved in every detail, as if it were made out of rubber.

“ The exhibition is designed to deliver a healthy dose of educational medicine to both young and old alike,” Glover said, pointing out that the exhibition gives people an opportunity to see how poor health practices such as obesity and smoking affect the body. He believes that this educational “medicine hopefully will help provide the antidote to this unfortunate set of health-related problems.”
The exhibition has been criticized by various groups with religious or ethical concerns. However, Glover said that a team of experts, Premier Exhibitions partners, in Dalian, China, where the bodies originate, examines each specimen before it is placed in any of its exhibitions and treats each body in a dignified and respectful manner.

“ Diligence on the part of Premier ensures that none of the bodies that we receive and plan to use in our exhibitions show any signs of execution, torture, and abuse. As a former medical educator, I involve myself in this process because I understand what an important responsibility it is to be entrusted with a human body,” said Glover.

Senior Jessica Goolsby, a 21-year-old communication major, researched the exhibition on the Internet and then visited it with her husband. Goolsby said she found the exhibit interesting and would encourage people to visit it.

“ I loved the male body in the last room, the one that displayed a hip replacement and other medical modifications,” Goolsby said.

Sophomore nursing student, Kristian Gozum, who is used to seeing graphic images of the human body, said the exhibit demonstrated just how complex the body really is.

“ We can read in the books about how our body functions, but to visually see our organs, especially the ‘hands-on’ portion at the end of the exhibit, was awesome,” Gozum said. “It really was a life-changing experience.”

The exhibition is on a world tour and next visits countries such as Hungary and Spain. It will continue at Ala Moana through Dec. 21. Hours are Monday through Friday- 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday- 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.



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