Our body. Our World: The Body Worlds Exhibition

Greg and I finally went to check out the Body Worlds Exhibition at the Waterfront this weekend. We’ve been meaning to go for a while, and a cloudy Sunday seemed like the perfect time to do it. We’re that kind of nerdy couple who really enjoy going to museums, galleries and other weird cultural things.

If you didn’t know (but you probably do), the Body Worlds exhibit showcases real life human cadavers, which have been preserved through a process of Plastination. It’s crazy, you get to see real life human bodies up close and in such immense detail. I found you kind of forgot that they were real, because, well, they didn’t look so much like it.

body worlds

Look how detailed you see these bodies.

I knew a lot of the things we’d be seeing in the exhibition: the smoker’s lung, the length of the digestive system on the wall, a human head cut in half… but there were some things I never expected and were really just, wow.

Human head cut in half.

Human head cut in half.

The one thing that really got to me, were just looking at human muscles. I never did bio at school, was very much a BA student (i.e the human body wasn’t something we ever touched), and as a regular gym-goer I just found it very interesting. Greg would point out “And this exercise works this muscle,” and “wow, check those biceps!”. It’s nice to see the underlying workings of it all.

I was somewhat grossed out by the smokers lung. On the one side, clean and white-ish sat the lungs of a non-smoker, next to it a spotted, gray mass was the lungs of a smoker. I’ve never smoked a cigarette (true story), and while I didn’t feel the grotesque “I-cant-believe-those-are-my-lungs-I-need-to-stop-smoking” feeling, I felt kind of relieved to have clean healthy lungs which I try my hardest to take care of.

Check. That. Lung.

Check. That. Lung.

The body is a crazy mechanism. So many little things and organs, which need to work in harmony for you to well, be alive. Going through the museum, and knowing that each little organ fits somewhere inside your body. It’s hard not to look yourself up and down and wonder where it all fits. To stand back and think of your heart, not so much bigger than your first, and how the smallest obstruction or incident can cause a heart attack – and the entire body shuts down and dies? It sure puts a lot of things into perspective.

One of the coolest parts of the exhibit, I found, was a map (I think I’d call it), of the human nervous system. I knew we’d be seeing bodies, but to see intricate design of string-like object, lying down, making the shape of a human body… was so cool! Running all the wayfrom the brain, to each individual finger, toes, and just everywhere… this is how we move, this is how our brain tells us to do things!


I don’t know if this makes me immature (Greg said it did) but there was something that unnerved me about seeing the genitals of bodies. I’m not a prude, but there was just something so sad and lifeless about them. Which is kind of ironic, considering these are where life comes from… I don’t know. It creeped me out.


We’re big fans of interactive museums too, so were very eager to order Audio Guides along with our tickets. Granted, its an extra R40 on top of your R140 entry and when you’re two people it kind of adds up but I’m so happy we got them, they added so much to our experience (there’s only so much y0u can read, and you get a wealth more information with the audio guides.)

The digestive system. Somehow that ALL fits inside you!

The digestive system. Somehow that ALL fits inside you!

I knew I’d enjoy the exhibit, but Greg enjoyed it to a whole other level. I think he listened to every single possible explanation on the audio guide, and I kept finding myself having to wait for him to catch up to where I was. He loved bio in school, and is currently teaching kids at school all about the human body so kept explaining extra things he’d just learnt or taught.

To many people the exhibition is a display of life and mortality, how vulnerable your body really is, and all the things you can do to keep it in the best condition you can, whereas some things in it’s decline is inevitable. If you haven’t been to the Body Worlds exhibition, I highly recommend it. Adult tickets are R140 (students/seniors R110) and the audio guides are R40. It’s already been extended to March 10th, so get in there!


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