In 1489, Leonardo da Vinci dissected human corpses in an effort to better his art and anatomic drawings. Though famous for this effort, da Vinci was not the first or last person to do so. Today, scientists still strive to understand the human form through various methods, including the dissection of cadavers. The human body, an intensely complex structure, has remained something of a mystery for years; new questions arise with every new finding. BODIES... The Exhibition, at the Carnegie Science Center, seeks to showcase the intricacies of the human body.
To that end, BODIES... features preserved bodies, dissected to show different parts of the human body. The exhibit features bodies playing tennis, kicking a soccer ball, conducting an orchestra, and more. There is also a circulatory exhibit where the human form is entirely composed of capillaries, veins, and arteries, all lit with lights.
BODIES... has caused worldwide controversy since it opened in 2005. Elaine Catz, an 11-year employee at the Science Center, resigned in reaction to the exhibit. She claimed that the bodies had unknown origins, and that it was immoral to use them. Many political and religious activists have also spoken out against the exhibit, condemning the use of corpses for public entertainment. BODIES... incorporates embryos and fetuses from 9- to 32-week gestation periods, which has caused many to feel strongly against the exhibit as well.
“It may be upsetting to people to see bodies being treated more as scientific exhibits than as people,” said chemical engineering professor Kris Noel Dahl. “I can understand this point of view. Given the wealth of different cultures and diversity of beliefs in the U.S., it is very likely that some will be offended.”
Despite much controversy, BODIES... has drawn millions of visitors all over the world. “I think that we all have fascination about the way things work,” Dahl said. “One thing that everyone has in common is that they have a body.”