The new Body Worlds exhibit at the Museum of Science and
Industry is an up-close tour of the human body, plain and simple.
"Body Worlds: Cycle of
Life" is a fascinating look at what makes us work, play, love,
age and, yes, die: More than 20 full-size plastinated bodies and
dozens of smaller exhibits show the effects of smoking and obesity,
the causes of Alzheimer's and aneurisms, and the flexibility and
strength used by athletes.
But is it good for kids?
Maybe. Certainly it's not good for very young kids, who will
have the exhibit's skinless, glass-eyed figures to thank for a new
vision of the boogeyman.
But at the exhibit's premiere, there were plenty in the 8 to 12
set and none of them seemed traumatized. To be safe, we'd recommend
10 and up.
Aside from the opening room, which has more than two dozen
fetuses at different stages of development (and even that minefield
is remarkably well handled), nothing in the exhibit is likely to
upset kids middle-school-aged and up. Overall, Body Worlds is
graphic without being gory and surpassingly artistic, from the
graceful gymnast to the hockey and football players suspended in a
Body Worlds isn't geared toward kids the way YOU!
The Experience or Science Storms
just around the corner are. But some kids may find its honesty
enlightening and some of the exhibits - like the smoker's lung -
could spark genuine discussion betwen you and your children.
In part, it depends on the kid. Everyone knew that kid growing
up who collected bugs at recess in elementary school and in high
school biology class, was the one holding the scalpel as everyone
else held their noses. If your child is one of those kids -
innately curious and not overly sensitive - then Body Worlds is a
But really, it depends on what kind of parent you are, and
whether you're prepared for the onslaught of questions that comes
with such an honest view of the human body. Walking around the
exhibit, I heard more than a few variations on "Mommy, what's that
and why don't I have one?" I suspect that more existential
questions about death and the body came up on the car ride home.
This exhibit is one that sticks with you for a while, so be
prepared for a few weeks of follow-up questions.
While there's nothing inappropriate about the plasticized bodies
- it's all anatomy, folks - these aren't artfully draped nudes at
an art museum. There are no stone fig leaves, and if you think the
time isn't right to have that talk - and all that goes along with
it - with your kids, I'd say hold off on Body Worlds.
But if yours is the kind of household where penises are called
penises, then there's no downside to a trip to MSI.
And the upsides are many. An exhibit on exactly how smoking
kills you is more powerful than any textbook. A plasticized ostrich
reminds us just how closely connected we are to the animal world. A
pair of hockey players locked in a midair collision both
shows us why we love sports and why a stream of headlines are now
making us think twice.
Two things to consider if you're taking the kids: The first full
room contains a series of plasticized fetuses that could be
disturbing for some kids, as well as a panel on sexual intercourse
slightly hidden around a corner. Again, nothing traumatizing,
but maybe something to skip with your preteen-or-younger.
Body Worlds runs through Sept. 5 at the Museum of Science
and Industry and is not included in general admission. Details
See more of Liz's stories here.
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