Saturday, June 05, 2010

A Day In History

I spent Saturday surrounded by skeletons, mummies, and plasticized human remains. No, I am not in the planning stages of some weird B-flick style Halloween show. I was here:
Now, this place doesn't hold a candle to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry (I'm suddenly struck by a strong desire to see the Fairy Castle) or even the St. Louis Science Center. It has some interesting stuff, but it isn't very big at all. I got there around 1:30p and was able to see all of the major exhibits, plus two shows, before the majority of them closed at 5:00p. It being Colorado and all, there was a big emphasis on these guys:
And they're always pretty cool. There was the obligatory ancient Egypt exhibit complete with a couple of mummies, and a health thing where you could do all these different things and then at the end it would give you a printout of your current health (the sunscreen v. UV light thing was kinda cool). The shows I saw were decent. One was an IMAX movie called "Arabia" which was a history of Arabic people during their Golden Ages and turned out to be much more interesting than I had anticipated. The other was "Cosmic Journey" in the planetarium (like you guys seriously would expect me to pass up a planetarium) which, to be honest, was good but would have been better if I had been dumber. In fact, their whole space exhibit was kind of like that. It had some neat stuff - my favorite thing was their Big Dipper constellation, which was spaced out across the ceiling not only width-wise but depth-wise, which made it look VERY different from different angles! - but it was a lot of little kids' science class stuff and very little actual space relics or history. (I might have gotten extra nerd points for being able to tell what type of rocket they were showing a launch video for, though. I got some crazy looks when a kid who was watching asked what it was and the parent said "Oh, it's a space shuttle launch" and I just couldn't let that slide. "Actually, it's a Boeing Delta II rocket launching one of the Mars rovers." I did cheat a little on the payload, it was *gasp* on the sign!) They did have a small sliver of one moon rock, though. Eh.

I ended the day with (what I assume) is their current pride and joy, and rightfully so. I didn't know it when I decided to go up this morning, but one of the BodyWorlds exhibits is currently in Denver. I'd heard a lot about it, most of it controversial, so I decided to check it out even though I really wasn't sure how I would react to it. In a nutshell, for those who don't know about it, this German guy has figured out how to preserve bodies so that the skin and outer layer of tissues are gone, and the muscles, vessels, nerves, organs and bones are all visible. It's controversial in some lines of thought because, in these cases, the bodies are human. (Personally, I think that if these people donated their bodies for this, and they did, then I have no problem with it. It is not disgusting or gory or creepy or disrespectful in any sense of the word at all.) Some of the bodies are posed doing regular human things (walking, lifting, playing hockey - seriously!) so that you can see how things work together to give us motion. Others are dissected, sometimes cross-sectioned, into one of the best anatomy lessons I have ever had in my life. This is tempered with a focus on love and happiness and peace and how those things actually physiologically affect us and make us work better. (Did you know that optimists actually do live longer than pessimists? I didn't.) It is most definitely NOT an art exhibit, although it does show off the power and resilience of the human body like I have never seen, and I can't honestly say I enjoyed it or even liked it, but I can say that I learned from it and it definitely made me think. I might not go out of my way to see it again, but I would recommend it to someone who hasn't seen it before. So all in all, it was a good day. To the zoo tomorrow!!


Christina said...

I've wanted to see Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle for years. The closest I've gotten (so far) is finding an autographed copy of the book she wrote about it. I was pretty thrilled to find it for $1 at a thrift store downtown.

My daughter and I saw BodyWorlds in Phoenix three years ago and we both were quite moved. I thought we might be repulsed but the exhibit was done with such dignity and respect. We both came away in awe of the human body, what it can do, its beauty.

Kadiddly said...

It's been probably fifteen years at least since the last time I saw the Fairy Castle in Chicago. It's always been one of my favorites and I hope that someday I might get a daughter to share it with!

I agree on BodyWorlds - it's very moving. I had tears in my eyes at one point!