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Bodyworlds preserves itself..until 17 August

Jonathan Schofield and how the exhibition which got into a pickle with the Bishop finds an after life

Written by . Published on June 17th 2008.


Bodyworlds preserves itself..until 17 August

Good we say. The fine folk at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) have announced a seven week extension to BODY WORLDS 4.

So now the closing date will be 17 August, 2008. The exhibition, has already had more than 200,000 visitors. During the last half-term week it drew a record 20,000 visitors. Put together this makes it the most popular and highly attended exhibition to date at MOSI. Ever.

"Thinking about this, could turn an athiest religious. Because there is something missing from these bodies. There is no life to animate them, they are husks."

This proves that there is life beyond dinosaurs and Dr Who in exhibition terms. Or perhaps we should say death beyond dinosaurs

It proves two other things as well. Maybe three.

It proves that content heavy exhibitions dealing with big themes such as anatomy can draw massive crowds and that science, presented with all the skill of a big theatrical production, are hugely popular. It also shows – although this might not be the motivation of most of the visitors here - that the pulling power of the good old freak show still has its place. It illustrates that despite all our modern sophistry and technology, there's a place for viewing it raw and in the flesh. Literally in this case.

The museum would understandably play down that part of the interest of Bodyworlds. Tony Hill, Acting Director of MOSI, says: “We are delighted to be extending this exhibition which provides a platform for visitors to learn about anatomy, physiology, and the impact that lifestyle choices can have on our health.”

This is fair enough. Because it's true that you leave the exhibition, one way or another, all the richer for having visited it.

Faced with our own humanity stripped and opened, you get the anatomical lesson, but you also something else. You get the wonder – even my seven year old got this. The corpse in front of you in MOSI had as much life as we did. This astonishingly complicated machine right here, is in a sense all of us.

Thinking about this, could turn an athiest religious. Because there is something missing from these bodies. There is no life to animate them, they are husks. They are the dead not the quick. It's makes a person ponder on whether this indicates the existence of the soul? This exhibition may show us how we work but it also makes us think about many other things.

The Bishop of Manchester doesn't seem to have visited the exhibition, despite his condemnation of it. Perhaps he should, it makes the Church's case that much stronger.

We don't often get exhibitions as interesting or important as this in Manchester so get down there while it lasts.

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FrankJune 17th 2008.

I went a few weeks ago and found it very interesting, I recently did a course which included anatomy and physiology and it helped massively for me to see the actual organs rather than looking at pictures in a book. I took my friends and their 5 year old child who also loved it, she wasn't scared and was really interested. You walk around the exhibition and you don't really think of them as real bodies - the most amazing one is where the body is split down the middle and stretched and the back of the body the brain and spine is retracted back, it really is an amazing exhibition and not one bit gross or offensive. I did find it humorous how as you move around the exhibition everyone kept commenting about the men who have varying willy sizes, then you come to one man who was very “well gifted” which caused quite a stir

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