Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Museum Review: Bodies Revealed

I am generally a fairly squeamish person, but I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed a recent trip to the Bodies exhibit at Foxwoods Casino. We had planned for some time on visiting an incarnation of the exhibit--a traveling show that features Real! Human! Bodies!--but missed it in the Boston area and didn't want to make the drive to New York City. Thank goodness for Foxwoods, which also enabled our "bonus" museum visit to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center. The coolest part of the Bodies exhibit was definitely the veins revealed by some obscure and deliciously gruesome process. The display was ultimately clinical, rather than gory, and ended up feeling more like an anatomy lesson than a House of Horrors. We didn't even have any qualms when faced by the row of fetuses in various stages of growth. The only downside was probably the steadily cautionary tone of the descriptions ("these are a smoker's lungs--you shouldn't smoke!" and "obese people are more likely to have deformed organs like this--watch what you eat and exercise!" and "are you sure you don't want to stop smoking RIGHT NOW?"). Despite the proselytizing, it was more often than not that we couldn't figure out the real difference between the regular lung and the cancerous lung . . . I would be hard pressed, if given a sample and told to identify them, to figure out which one looked more like my mother's lungs upon her death. Not to mention the cancerous breast. I'm not sure the museum was worth the $20 per person price of admission (we cheated and shared the audio tour), but it was interesting. If anything, it wasn't informative enough--not enough things were labeled, especially the "cross-sections" (basically people sliced from top to bottom, side to side, and front to back, then positioned with space to see between the slices), which were otherwise really cool. I have never been at an exhibit that made me so often stop and examine myself physically.

Grade: B

Random Thoughts:

Reading more about the controversy surrounding the exhibit . . . the bodies may be executed Chinese political prisoners. Hmm. It would really be nice if this sort of scientific/educational/commercial endeavor could be achieved without exploitation. Aren't there fat, white, middle-class guys out there who are willing to give their bodies for science? I maintain that the theory behind the exhibit--educating people about their own bodies--and the process by which the bodies are preserved--is worthwhile, but in retrospect I hope those who provided their bodies received some compensation.

A lot of the people at the exhibit were pretty juvenile, despite appearing to be adult. I'm looking at you, former frat boys, and YOU, giggly (possibly drunk) ladies. Yes, those were genitalia. I blame Foxwoods.

We didn't leave nearly enough time for the Pequot Museum. For some reason, I thought I could breeze through in an hour and 45 minutes (like the Uffizi in Florence, no I'm not proud) despite the ticket-seller's warning, and I was wrong. I will have to return with a penitent air at some point in the future and cough up another outrageous amount of money. Also, the viewing tower offers a super view of . . . the casino. Which is really fairly ugly, compared to Mohegan Sun . . . which is no great shakes.

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