Ditch the anatomy textbook and head to the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium for an up close look at what your body looks like, under the skin.
The “Our Body: The Universe Within” exhibit is on display through April 23. Visitors will get an in-depth look at what the body looks like through the body’s 11 organized systems, like skeletal, digestive and muscular from head to toe.
There are 12 bodies on display and more than 200 organs that fill 5,000-square-feet. The body parts are accompanied by detailed descriptions that explain functions and processes.
The bodies were preserved through a process called polymer impregnation, which preserves a body indefinitely. Bodily fluids are replaced by a liquid plastic that hardens to last forever. Some of the bodies were preserved 30 years ago. The process leaves the finest, most delicate tissue structure intact. That means you can see the tiniest bones in the body as well as blood vessels and other microscopic details.
The only body part that isn’t real are eyes. That’s because eyes can’t be preserved, according to museum officials.
Seeing a body that has undergone the polymer impregnation is something doctors and medical students are used to seeing, but it isn’t common to experience the preserved bodies up close.
“It’s just so neat,” said museum COO Kate Arrizza.
She said the museum had been looking to bring a bodies exhibit to showcase for the past five years. She said this display was selected because of its educational value and because all of the bodies have been documented as donations to science.
“It’s really the best exhibit on the market,” she said.
And, she said so far the exhibit has had tons of visits from classes ranging from college students taking anatomy classes to younger students. Attendance for opening weekend beat out the last dinosaur exhibit by 138 percent.
This exhibit is presented in partnership with Jupiter Medical Center and Palm Healthcare Foundation, Inc. Boca-based health IT company Modernizing Medicine sponsored the Musculoskeletal Gallery, which is the beginning of the exhibit.
Thanks to the partnerships, Arrizza said the museum has been able to offer extra programming to accompany the exhibit. On opening weekend there were two da Vinci robots, which assist during surgeries.
Arrizza said it took two weeks of 12-hour days to set up the gallery. The lighting is dimmed to provide a respectful experience. After all, the bodies are real. She said the most impactful display for her is one that shows a smoker’s lungs. The lungs show how cancer affects smokers.
One sensitive area of the exhibit is the prenatal gallery. A sign warns visitors that it could be a lot to handle. It explains the phases of a baby’s development and shows an infant who died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and conjoined twins.
Bodies are posed to be in action to help demonstrate what that system does. One body is dribbling a basketball while another is kicking a soccer ball.
Museum officials said the exhibit is appropriate for people of all ages, but parents should use their own discretion to make a decision for their kids.
The exhibit was developed and provided by the Anatomical Sciences & Technologies Foundation in Hong Kong. The specimens in the exhibition were provided by various accredited Chinese universities, medical schools, medical institutions, research centers and laboratories to further the goals of the Anatomical Sciences & Technologies Foundation, which are to promote educational and medical research of the human body.