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Get ‘plastinated’ at Museum of Science’s Body Worlds Vital

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

It’s a disturbing fact that heart disease claims one million lives annually, and Americans are slowly embracing the idea that a healthy lifestyle can prevent—and even overcome—major illnesses.

While taking exercise, healthy eating and sleep are a wondrous trio toward avoiding an early death, it’s valuable to understand how your body functions in health and when it’s encumbered by disease—part because the human body is fascinating, and part because there’s ample practical knowledge to glean from a good visual representation.

Body Worlds Vital, an Buffalo Museum of Science exhibition beginning May 31, uses a process called plastination, founded by German doctor Gunther von Hagens, to show how real human specimens should and shouldn’t operate.

The museum’s hours are pretty accommodating for Buffalonians wanting to investigate. Sunday through Wednesday, the hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., while Thursday through Saturday, the museum’s headlining exhibit is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

For adults, tickets for non-members of the Buffalo Museum of Science are $15, while members pay only $6. Here’s how you become a member.

If you’re giddy for Body Worlds to start, a VIP premiere of the exhibit runs from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Museum of Science, and tickets are $20 for non-members and $11 for members. Health coaches from Independent Health will direct tours, and there’s a cash bar available as well (word is that a small glass of wine is good for you!).

According to a press release from the Museum of Science, Vital “explores the capabilities of the human body and tells the pressing story of how best to defeat life-threatening diseases through informed choices and lifestyle changes.”

Inspired by watching an employee slice ham, von Hagens chose a rotary blade to slice kidneys, then infused the kidney with silicone rubber for stability and to avoid encasing it in plastic. Since von Hagens work with the kidney—through a few adjustments—was effective, he managed to apply the same technique to other body parts—thus making it possible to create an entire exhibit of the human body through plastination. If you’re still a little perplexed, you can read in greater detail here.

The popularity of the first Body Worlds exhibit in Buffalo in 2009—Body Worlds and the Story of the Heart—allowed further for another similar exhibit four years later.

“The success of our 2009 Body Worlds engagement made it financially possible for us to begin the transformation of the museum experience with the installation of interactive science studios,” said Mark Mortenson, CEO and Buffalo Museum of Science president in the release. “Vital presents us with an opportunity to showcase these new permanent spaces to new audiences and provide a full museum experience to guests of all ages this summer.”

(Interior photos courtesy of the Buffalo Museum of Science press kit).

TAGGED: body worlds vital, buffalo museum of science, gunther von hagens, plastination, vip premiere

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