Bodies, the Exhibition: A Crash-Course in Medicine in Manhattan

Ana Abraham

The idea of learning from human bodies is something that is commonly associated with medical school students. Many people probably think that future doctors are the only people who have such opportunities. Well, a New York City exhibit has effectively changed that.

Bodies, The Exhibition, is an interactive museum-type learning experience geared to take the mystery away from the way the human body functions. The exhibit, which is in a building on a busy street in the Seaport area of Manhattan, has over 200 cadavers and specimens that have been specially preserved so they will never decay. They’re preserved through a revolutionary process called polymer preservation, which was initiated in the late 1970’s, and which is so effective that specimens from that era are still used worldwide to teach medical students.

Walking into Bodies is like walking into any museum. The exhibits are displayed (respectfully) in a variety of positions, separated into rooms that concentrate on specific body systems or ailments. In addition to the centerpieces of the room, the actual semi-dissected cadavers, there are glass cases with cross sections of bones, organs, tissue, and almost anything else imaginable. One of the cadavers early on in the exhibition is set up so that it is holding hands with its skeleton. Another has a variety of surgical tools on it, to show where implants, metal plates, and even surgical retractors fit into the skeletal form.

The purpose of Bodies is to provide the general public with a different view of what goes on underneath a person’s skin. The mystery of each of the various processes that make up a functioning body and an active mind are uncovered and exposed in a way that is not macabre, but educational. Each specimen was treated with the utmost respect, and the exhibit as a whole complies with all medical and ethical standards. It is an exhibit that’s information has been verified by celebrity physicians like Dr. Oz and even the White House’s physical trainer. The medical value of seeing firsthand what a smoker’s lung or an alcoholic’s liver looks like is too great to be measured.

With educational games and interactive exhibits set up throughout, Bodies has something for people of all ages. Ticket prices are also discounted with a college ID. If you’re in the Manhattan area and have a few hours to spare, you won’t regret checking out Bodies.