If you have ever wondered what happens to you when you die, then wonder no more. “Bodies: The Exhibition” answers that question rather harshly, by presenting preserved human organs for museum display. It’s quite ghastly and yet very informative. It says, “These are your parts…they decay when you’re dead and you go back into the ground.” The traveling tour exhibit reminds us that our bodies are just systems, parts, and decaying matter, to go back into the dust. So, while the question of where your consciousness goes, and if life continues, is an unanswered mystery, the literal question of what happens to your body is fairly obvious.
How in the world do they preserve human bodies after natural deaths? These bodies in particular are prevented from decaying by using a special rubberizing process invented in the 1970s. The process sees all water and fat in the cells of the body replaced by acetone and eventually by plastic.
No, it’s definitely not for all tastes, and more than a few concerns have been raised because of the ethics of displaying dead bodies for educational purposes. Ethics have been a question, and many religious figures have even suggested viewing such human frailty with a skeptical and objective eye could be damaging to teaching values, perhaps even training youth to be cynical about the value of human life.
The exhibit endured a challenge from the Florida Attorney General in Tampa, where it started, who wanted to shut the entire exhibit down. Of course, the purpose is not intended to be objectifying. If anything, seeing death and expired bodies up close may help to teach us reverence for life; learning its beauty, its frailty and its amazing functions. Indeed, the exhibit could well help to teach spirituality to young minds, which have only learned about death from TV shows, movies, and gossip. It’s best not to simply answer children’s questions dogmatically, but to stimulate their thinking processes by offering a scientific discussion.
The “Bodies” exhibit is touring around the nation and always bringing controversy its way. If only people were this concerned about the living and not the dead, maybe we’d have a better crack at this peaceful society thing…