Last night finally found us at Bodyworlds 3 at OMSI. Amazing.

The first part of the exhibit is the development of a human at, I believe, every week of pregnancy. As soon as there is a difference to be seen, both male and female examples are presented. I was awed by the female at about 25 weeks, her sex delicately carved, as if she’d been marked with her name by an alien hand.

The most surprising thing about the exhibit was its accessibility. While you were asked not to touch anything, the plastinates were not at a distance, and many of them were free of glass encasement. Visitors were able to lean in nose-to-nose, as it were, and examine these fascinating people closely.

What a great place to have a biologist spouse. At one of the first specimens, two other visitors were wondering aloud about the sheath covering the torso. Bill was handy with a great explanation. He kept himself to my questions afterwards. I had a feeling people would have been trailing him like a piper otherwise. What’s that stuff that looks like tape? It’s everywhere? Wow.

I discovered that lungs are ugly, whether you smoke or not, that I do know where to deliver a kidney punch, and that the liver is larger than I thought it was. Big bloody blob, that. For learning about the body, nothing compares to seeing it. Books do not have the depth, and models are not compelling. For those who aren’t sure they could stomach seeing Bodyworlds, I recommend giving it a try. The anonymity and theatrical poses of the bodies ameliorates our natural human empathy. Well, except for wincing at the flayed penis. I had some reluctance myself, but I was utterly enthralled. It can be preachy in bits (they have Yul Brynner’s anti-smoking ad on a loop), but that’s fairly easy to ignore as you become immersed in beautiful anatomy.

And now I’m going to sound like an ad myself: Bodyworlds 3 is at OMSI for only a few more weeks. Go.

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