Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take pictures inside the Exhibition?
The Exhibition may not be photographed. However, we have developed a catalog with photographs of the specimens and detailed descriptions of them. Additionally, images of the Exhibition are available on our Facebook page.

Where do the full body specimens come from?
The full body specimens are persons who lived in China and died from natural causes. After the bodies were unclaimed at death, pursuant to Chinese law, they were ultimately delivered to a medical school for education and research. Where known, information about the identities, medical histories and causes of death is kept strictly confidential.

Why use specimens from China?
To obtain specimens for our exhibitions, we work with Chinese medical facilities because top dissectors and anatomy specialists live and work in China. It requires a great deal of knowledge, skill, and patience to prepare a specimen.

How long does it take to dissect and permanently preserve each specimen?
The timing varies. A small organ can take one week to prepare, whereas the process can take up to one year to prepare a whole body.

What health issues are highlighted in the Exhibition?
Bodies…The Exhibition allows visitors to learn about their own bodies; it ultimately teaches guests how to take better care of their health and make positive lifestyle choices. The Exhibition enables guests to see and understand in a whole new way the medical conditions that they themselves or friends and family members may face. Full body and partial specimens demonstrate the manifestations of various pressing health concerns, including obesity, breast cancer, colon cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, ectopic pregnancy, arthritis, osteoporosis, and bone fractures. BODIES...The Exhibition also highlights damage done to organs due to the perils of smoking and dietary excesses.

Which part of the anatomy is the hardest to preserve?
The brain is the most difficult organ to preserve due to its composition of primarily lipids (fat) and water. In the process of polymer preservation, the brain can shrink significantly during dehydration if preparation is not meticulous. To avoid this problem, the brain is dehydrated in a cold acetone, thus better maintaining its original size and shape.

What do the polymer preserved bodies feel like?
The specimens feel dry to the touch and can be either rigid or flexible, depending on the mix of chemicals used. While guests will be able to get very close to the specimens, as a rule, guests are not allowed to touch them.

Why use real human specimens instead of constructed models?
As Dr. Roy Glover, chief medical director for BODIES … The Exhibition states, “Seeing promotes understanding, and understanding promotes the most practical kind of body education possible. The body doesn’t lie!” Unlike models that idealize the body through the eyes of an artist, the specimens in the Exhibition display the body and its parts as they really exist. Idealized models have been used for many years to teach anatomy. However, models do not allow for any variation in structure or pathologies – which is key in learning how lifestyle and disease actually manifest inside the human body. As medical students and individuals have less time for the study of anatomy, it is even more important to have these unique specimens to give them both a greater understanding of anatomy, its intricate detail, and the fascinating variation of the human organism.

How long do the bodies last after polymer preservation?
Medical schools around the world continue to use the earliest specimens produced in the late 1970s. Polymer preserved full and partial specimens last indefinitely.

Why are separate body parts or organs displayed?
Our medical director has been able to identify obvious health problems affecting individual organs and body parts. Throughout the Exhibition, a number of display cases feature separate specimens with respective pathology indications. For example, a diseased lung is on display with a placard that identifies the condition as emphysema. This allows visitors to gain a clearer understanding of myriad medical conditions.

What is the appropriate age level for viewing the Exhibition?
"The teaching of basic human anatomy and physiology are hallmarks of any child’s education. We recommend that children attend the Exhibition with a teacher or parent as an adult guide. We feel strongly that the Exhibition offers a rare family experience: a golden opportunity to open the eyes of visitors of all ages. In a way no textbook ever could, BODIES...The Exhibition teaches guests about the complexities of the human body and the necessity of proper nutrition, regular activity, and healthy lifestyle choices, such as avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. The Exhibition has a special children’s audio tour available, as well as four age-specific teacher’s guides from elementary to post-graduate levels.