Bodies exhibit not as creepy as I feared

A body is posed in a throwing motion, showing muscles, in "Bodies Revealed" at the Lexington Center Museum & Gallery. © Herald-Leader photos by David Perry.

The first time I talked to Lexington Center spokeswoman Sheila Kenny about the new Lexington Center Museum and Gallery, we were discussing its inaugural exhibit, Bodies Revealed, and I said, “I may have  to wait until your next exhibit to check the place out.”

As fascinating as a look inside the human body sounds, an exhibit featuring carefully preserved cadavers creeped me out. I had been in New York when Bodies: The Exhibition opened to national headlines and had no interest whatsoever in going.

Bones of the skull are toward the front of the exhibit.

I have no interest in watching investigations of gruesome murder scenes on procedural crime dramas or surgery scenes in medical shows, say nothing of slasher flicks. I get queasy watching my own blood collect in a bag when I make a donation. So a room full of bodies, organs, veins, etc.? Eck.

Alas, the museum and show are on my beat, so Wednesday morning I found myself at the entrance to Bodies, warily investigating the body in the front case sliced up like an MRI looks at you in layers. That was actually one of the more unsettling things I saw all morning, though it was simulatenously fascinating to think this is the way an MRI looks at your body. And that’s the way a lot of it worked – reflexive revulsion was overcome by wow moments.

If you are a bit queasy about entering, Bodies does help you build up to it, starting with a skeletal display that is not too dissimilar from the one we stereotypically see standing by science teacher desks. It helped ease me in to some of the … uh … meatier portions of the exhibit.

Two things helped keep my mind off the fact I was looking at actual bodies.

1. It was fascinating. From the size of organs like the liver (larger than expected) and the stomach (I just ate a slice of pizza that would fill that thing) to intricate systems like the arteries in the arms to sobering items such as the blackened lungs of a smoker, it’s loaded with striking moments, especially when you consider that all these bones, muscles, blood vessels, nerves and more are inside you.

2. The silicone process they use to preserve the items actually makes the pieces appear a bit less real – more like plastic models of organs you may have seen in science class – than the actual bodies they are.

By the end, I was even holding a brain at the touch station … no that I want to do that again, but seeing Bodies was worth putting my reflexive revulsion in check.

Click to see a photo gallery from Bodies Revealed.

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