Body Worlds Returns to Toronto, This Time with More Heart
When Gunther Von Hagens' Body Worlds came to town in 2005 almost half a million of us went to see it at the Science Centre, and 32,000 alone over the marathon 61-hour final weekend. Visitors were amazed by the full-body plastinates on display, each of them created using the body of a deceased human being who had donated their remains to Von Hagens' Institute for Plastination (IfP).
The process goes like this: the body is dissected and processed so that previously living flesh is replaced with a polymer. After this, the preserved "body" is manipulated into an imaginative pose to reveal elements of our human nature, physicality, or to demonstrate how our internal structures work.
This time around, the show brings a renewed focus: "The Story of the Heart." It's nice that a certain amount of the shock value associated with the Body Worlds is over and they can offer more specialized presentations. "The Story of the Heart" explores the ways the heart relates to us and how we relate to it, how it is connected within our bodies and how we conceive of it as an object and an idea.
As I walked into the exhibition, the sound of a beating heart was amplified into the hall, and I was promptly greeted by the first plastinate, a human heart. Truly an amazing little thing, visitors are told that during the average day a human heart can pump as much as 6800 litres of blood.
Further on I encountered a skeleton with eyes, looking up in a beckoning pose, holding its heart in its hands, which, upon further examination, reveals the arterial circulatory system.
Other plastinates include a hurdler, a spear thrower, a gymnast on a balance beam, and a couple locked in an embrace.
There's even a plastinated giraffe, standing 5.6m high. Newly added to the collection, the giraffe is meant to demonstrate the flexibility of the heart as a pump, varying pressure as the giraffe raises or lowers its long neck.
Various dissections of vital organs are included as well, and a special display on the development of the foetus is included.
I'm quite sure the Body Worlds exhibit will appeal to a wide audience, and am confident in saying that this collection doesn't disappoint.
Gunther Von Hagens' Body Worlds: The Story of the Heart runs at the Ontario Science Centre now to February 28th, 2010. Tickets are $28.50 for adults, $24.50 Youth & Senior, $18.50 for Children 4-12.
Writing and photography by Hamish Grant.
For more photos, check out he Flickr slideshow below.
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