The State Museum has opened its largest and most expensive guest exhibit– and it’s perhaps one of the most talked about collections in the world.
Body Worlds Vital was created by German anatomist Gunther van Hagens and his wife, Angelina Whalley and features real human bodies and organs that were preserved with a process called plastination, which was invented by van Hagens.
It is a patented science that preserves the human body perfectly and indefinitely. Whalley came to Columbia for the launch of the exhibit and spoke with South Carolina Radio Network.
AUDIO: Whalley, a physician, explains the plastination method.
People, mainly Europeans, donated their bodies to the van Hagens’s exhibits, which are used to train students and educate the general public.
Body Worlds Vitalserves as a way to see and study healthy– and unhealthy– parts of the body. All layers of the human anatomy are revealed. Being the designer and manager of this exhibit, allows Whalley to do preventative medicine, she says. “To teach millions of people how wonderfully our body is made. How vulnerable and yet forgiving it is. When I see visitors inside our exhibition, how respectful and in awe when they are standing in front of the exhibits and realize ‘that is actually me that I am looking at.'”
For example, there are lungs of a long-term smoker which are charred black. One specimen shows the three-dimensional, intricate netting of the structure of the arteries surrounding the brain.
AUDIO: Whalley explains the preservation of the skull’s arteries.
The Body Worlds exhibit that opened last week runs through April 13, 2012 in Columbia is expected to draw thousands of visitors. Previous versions have now been seen by more than 33 million people around the world. The museum allows entry every 15 minutes and the tickets are sold extra to museum entry price.