Have you ever seen a full-size human liver up close? What about an aorta or the human brain? The “Our Body: The Universe Within” exhibit at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium allows visitors a chance to see all of these organs and more. It’s one of the coolest, most visual ways to learn about human anatomy just like doctors, nurses and med students do.
“Our Body” is a true dichotomy of art and science, much like Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci’s work. Bright pink arteries adorn fleshy peach tissue on a heart the size of my fist. Ashen grays contrast black matter on a set of lungs from a smoker. Specimens are creatively arranged—one is playing chess, and another is seated on a treadmill. There’s a tangible awe for the meticulous detail that went into preserving each minute feature.
The exhibit can be traced back to the Anatomical Sciences & Technologies Foundation in Hong Kong, which promotes medical and educational research of the human body. Individuals donate their bodies to the organization solely for the purpose of advancing medical studies and assisting education.
Once a body is donated, it undergoes the process of Polymer Impregnation. In simple terms, this method replaces water and lipid tissues with a liquid plastic that is later hardened to create the 3D organs and structures for the exhibit.
In total, 12 human bodies are displayed throughout the exhibit, along with several cases containing over 200 organs. They are organized by systems, so visitors can comprehend the complexity of the human body from head to toe. In addition, there is a prenatal gallery, which is situated quietly off to the side with a sign. This aspect of the exhibit is optional, as the matter contained inside is of sensitive nature.
Of all the “art” I got to see, my favorite aspect of the exhibit was definitely the cardiovascular system. My mom had open-heart surgery last year, so it was incredible to see an actual human heart up close, and be able to spot the valve that she had replaced. There’s a sort of dance that goes on between the chambers of the heart and its components to make it work. To see something like that touches you in a way textbooks can’t.
“Our Body: The Universe Within”
Where: South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, 4801 Dreher Trail North, West Palm Beach
When: October 22, 2016—April 23, 2017
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday—Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday—Sunday
Cost: $16.95 for adults, $12.95 for children ages 3 to 12, and $14.95 for seniors ages 60 and older
Contact: 561/832-1988 or visit www.sfsciencecenter.org