There can’t be many exhibitions in the world that prompt people to reassess their lifestyle, but then there can’t be many exhibitions like this.
If not my whole life, I certainly regretted the night before – the tenth beer and that twentieth cigarette. Maybe it was the liver, engorged with cirrhosis, or possibly the blackened lungs of the smoker that did it. Either way, plans for that evening’s boozing were swiftly curtailed.
But it is wrong to assume that the Bodies Revealed exhibition is some kind of gore-fest. Sure, there is an element of the macabre, but this isn’t the Hannibal Lecter freak show you’d otherwise expect. Set in a warehouse inside a complex occupied by the Industrial Chemistry Research Institute, it might be off the beaten path but visitors are rewarded by an illuminating and though provoking exhibition that is in turn both strange and compelling. As their ad campaign states, it combines elements that are ‘fascinating and real’. So it proves.
The exhibits are well-signed in English and Polish, and the level of detail in the descriptions is not to be faulted. But even so, it’s well worth your while being walked through by a guide – local medical students who offer educated insight. Comprising approximately 200 exhibits, the curiosities come in all shapes and sizes: to the smallest bones in the body (tiny dot sized things in the ear), all the way to the sartorius – the longest. There is the strange (six pack muscles that look like strips of bacon) and the grisly (a brain preserved after a hemorrhage). And there is stuff that makes you wince – for instance, a penis sliced in half. There’s even preserved fetuses that illustrate how babies develop and grow over time. But there are also displays of strange grace and beauty. In particular, that means the exhibition dedicated to the circulatory system. Here, the blood vessel network of various body parts is highlighted using brightly colored dyes. The effect is strangely bewitching.
Showcasing the functions of all the bodily systems (skeletal, muscular, nervous, digestive, respiratory, circulatory, reproduction, urinary and integumentary), this is an exhibition that lays bare the secrets of the body in an accessible way that doesn’t intimidate. Using real human bodies, it’s an intriguing glimpse into what really goes on under our skin.
Bodies Revealed ul. Anny German 12 (Industrial Chemistry Research Institute), open 9:00-19:00, www.bodiesrevealed.pl. Tickets from zł. 35-60.
Ongoing until June 30