Body Worlds Vital: Anatomy and art fuse at Quincy Market

Body Worlds Vital in Boston. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO.
Body Worlds Vital in Boston. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO.

You’ll never look at your neighbor the same way.

A five-month anatomy exhibition has set up shop on the second floor of historic Quincy Market, celebrating the potential of the human body in motion.

Body Worlds Vital opened on Nov. 22, and will run through April. It is the first time the exhibition has been displayed in Boston. In 2006, Body Worlds 2, a different exhibit under the same company, was on display at the Museum of Science.

Visitors get an up-close look at more than 200 human organs and 15 whole-bodies that have been preserved through the process of plastination.

The number one question asked by transfixed visitors: “Is this real?” Whether it’s a human brain, a female vulva, or dissected intestines, the answer is yes – it’s real.

The exhibition focuses on the various systems of the body from the skeletal system, to the muscular system, respiratory, digestive, nervous, cardiovascular and reproductive systems.

The full body specimens – mostly male – are shown in dramatic poses, with some exhibiting facial expressions. Designers gave Bostonians a special shout out – one body holds a Red Sox bat and another a Bruins stick.

“We know that we need to present the specimens, organs, and plastinates in ways that would engage visitors,” said Dr. Angelina Whalley, director if the Institute for Plastination and creative and conceptual designer of Body Worlds. “When planning each exhibition my goal is to further our mission of health education, by ennobling the post-mortal body without sacrificing aesthetics. I try to present the body in a dramatic, memorable, beautiful way so that people can learn about anatomy, disease, and health.”

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Among the specimens: Two human lungs – a healthy one, and one charred black with lung cancer.

“Last week someone left their pack of cigarettes behind,” said Michael Lembo, a Body Worlds marketing representative. “But what’s great about the exhibit is that it doesn’t preach, it just gives you facts and lets you feel however you want to feel.”

According to Whalley, the exhibition has inspired throngs of visitors to take up healthier habits.

“In fact surveys have shown that 68 percent left the exhibition with valuable incentives for a healthier lifestyle. In addition, 48 percent of the visitors reported that they appreciated their body more after having seen the exhibition,” Whalley said.

On Monday, Cape Cod resident Tom Malloy neared the end of the exhibition, examining a male specimen which wore a floppy hat.

“This is amazing to me. I’ve always been fascinated by this machine that we call our body. We put food in it, and water, and it just keeps us alive.”

About 1,300 Americans are registered to donate their bodies to Body Worlds after death, including 14 from Massachusetts.

More information is available at bodyworldsboston.com.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS


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