Bodies: The Exhibition
Wednesday, April 18, 2007; 12:00 PM
Roy Glover is the chief medical adviser and spokesman for Bodies: The Exhibition, now on display in Rosslyn. The Bodies exhibit uses human corpses, carefully dissected and preserved to help improve understanding of the body's functions. The bodies are preserved in polymer, creating a long-lasting specimen that is durable on display.
Glover, a physician, created the University of Michigan's Polymer Preservation Laboratory, one of the only labs in the world capable of provide whole, dissected, polymer-preserved bodies for medical instruction. During a 36-year career teaching at the University of Michigan, he taught courses in all the anatomical disciplines at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Roy Glover was online Wednesday, April 18, at noon ET.
The transcript follows.
Roy Glover: Good Afternoon, This is Dr, Roy Glover, Chief Medical Director to BODIES...The Exhibition. I am very pleased to be a part of the Washington Post online forum and look forward to answering your questions.
BODIES ... The Exhibition is a groundbreaking exhibit that features whole-body specimens and also includes real organs and partial body specimens. In addition to providing a closer look at the skeletal, muscular, respiratory and other systems in the human body, the exhibition encourages healthy lifestyle choices.
The Exhibition opened at the DOME in Rosslyn this past weekend and please visit Bodiestickets.com for more information.
Washington, D.C.: Dr. Glover, why did you decide to leave your job at the University of Michigan to join this exhibition?
Roy Glover: After having taught at the University of Michigan medical school for 35 years I decided to focus my attention on education in the public sector. I felt that most people are under educated when it comes to knowledge about their own bodies and that this exhibition provided the best opportunity for people to learn more about themselves.
Rockville, Md.: I've never received a satisfactory answer as to where these bodies come from and how they are procured. Please explain. I would feel more comfortable visiting the exhibition if I knew the deceased people had voluntarily donated their bodies to science.
Roy Glover: All of the bodies were obtained through a credited medical university in the People's Republic of China. Asia possesses the largest and most highly competent group of dissectors in the world, and they are highly skilled in preparing the bodies for educational and scientific purposes. Currently, human specimens in medical schools in China, the United States and other countries throughout the world are donated or unidentified bodies.
All died from natural causes. However, in a number of cases throughout the exhibition, our medical director has been able to identify the obvious medical problems that the specimen suffered from, and, where appropriate, it is so indicated. For example, a lung is displayed and the disease is identified as emphysema, so those who see it can gain a clearer understanding of this disease. It is important to note that the law prohibits the disclosure of any information regarding the specimen's identity and/or cause of death.
Arlington, Va.: Can you explain the preservation process in layman's terms?
Great question- tissue fluids are replaced by liquid silicone. Then the silicone is hardened to create a dry, odorless specimen. The process can take from 24 hours to two weeks to complete depending on the size of the specimen.
Alexandria, Va.: Dr. Glover, I plan on taking my kids to see the exhibit. How do kids react to the bodies? Is it graphic? Is there a way I can prepare them for what they're going to see?
Roy Glover: We get this type of question all the time dealing with the appropriate age for children visiting the Exhibition. BODIES is a family exhibition, to date we have had more than 250,000 children attend the Exhibition. We recommend that children come with a parent or chaperon so you may answer their questions as you feel fit. The Exhibition will highlight all the body systems and the children who have attended have been educated and excited about what they see and learn. There will be images that come off the pages of a textbook -sort of a three dimensional opportunity come to life. If you have concerns I suggest checking our Web site (bodiestheexhibition.com). There are images as well as documents relating to children and how to get them excited about their health. We found that typically starting at the age 6 children really engage in the Exhibition and what it is about.
Rockville, Md.: I see the tickets have timed entrances. How long do you think a visit will take?
Roy Glover: Each of the nine galleries has written information on what you are going to see. It typically takes an hour to hour and half depending on whether you get the audio tour. Children also have an opportunity to use the audio tour as there is a kid friendly version. If you are with your family I would give two hours.
washingtonpost.com: Bodies: The Exhibition
Washington, D.C.: I was lucky enough to attend "Bodies" in Las Vegas. Not only was it incredibly educational, I thought the exhibition design layout was wonderful, too. Do you find it difficult traveling from city to city having to redesign the exhibit rooms and displays? Is there anything different in Washington I can look forward to when I take friends to see it?
Roy Glover: Bodies has enjoyed success in many different cities. Each Exhibition is different and provides an unique opportunity to learn about different diseases and your general health. We hope you are a life long learner and I feel that each Exhibition will provide you with new information to aid in your healthy lifestyle choices and understanding about the human body. While there are some similarities between our Exhibitions in Las Vegas, NY and other cities (such as the unhealthy lungs) DC does include different specimens you can see and learn from.
Two Vivid Memories and a Question: When I saw the exhibition, I was struck by the gestation section. Nothing like seeing a fetus in various stages of development to give you a clear understanding of when life begins.
Did you have any pushback on this part of the exhibit from pro-abortion forces, particularly coming from an academic environment?
Also, you might be amused to know that a gaggle of older ladies touring next to us enjoyed a nice giggle at the male reproductive section ...
Roy Glover: We have seen support from all parties because this is something everyone can relate to. We are not taking a position either way we are simply showing the body and all its state. We are open to all views and opinions and we are open and welcome discussion on every gallery. The Exhibition does not make a political statement and is there for all people to see and learn from, which has been our experience in every city we have visited.
New York, N.Y.: I saw the Bodies exhibit here in N.Y. and it was very fascinating and informative. The only thing rubbed me the wrong way was when some of those bodies were posing, like one throwing a football. It seemed sort of goofy, possibly macabre.
It's one thing to exhibit these former people for educational purposes, but when it's done to amuse (or the appearance of such) it's a bit off-putting -- though not offensive.
Roy Glover: They are purposely positioned to engage the public in learning. Sports are an active part of our life and something most people can relate to. BODIES puts them in these normal everyday activities because it engages all of our body systems for example the heart, the lungs, the muscles, etc. This provides our visitors with the best possible educational experience.
Reston, Va.: Is this the same exact exhibit I saw in London about five years ago?
Roy Glover: This Exhibition has been in London as well as Amsterdam, New York, Seattle, Miami, Tampa, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Durham, Sao Paulo and now DC. There are many Exhibitions similar to BODIES but we have designed it so the body is the star of our Exhibition and is represented in a professional, educational way.
Silver Spring, Md.: How many body parts are there in this exhibit?
Roy Glover: There are more than 260 real full body and partial body specimens in the Exhibition.
Washington, D.C.: Legally, anyone can say anything about a dead person, and it's not slander because they are deceased. But there's a law preventing you from disclosing the cause of death or the person's name? What it is the purpose of this?
Roy Glover: Laws governing the use of human bodies is universally and strictly regulated. Personal information is and always will be confidential. We always and without question follow both international and domestic laws in obtaining and displaying our specimens.
Washington, D.C.: I saw the exhibit in Miami and after initial uncertainty was fascinated by the spinal column and the circulatory parts of the exhibit. Still, couldn't this have been done without using real bodies?
Models are really an artist ideal look of the body and aren't always accurate. Medical students learn through real human specimens and we wanted to give the public the same educational opportunity.
South Riding, Va.: Just a few questions about the preserved bodies ...
How long can the bodies last as part of the exhibit?
Do the colors fade from exposure to the sun?
Can they be washed to remove the dust and dirt that accumulates over time?
Are they fragile?
The earliest specimens made in the late 1970s are still being used in medical schools around the world. They last indefinitely, just as if they were made entirely of the most indestructible material. The specimens are transported carefully in museum quality casing and only are shown in museum lighting. Some of the more delicate structures are fragile, such as small nerves and blood vessels.
Arlington, Va.: When you first started this project, did you have concerns that people would be disgusted by the thought of looking at the insides of other people?
Roy Glover: Some people have had apprehension about the human body. We have noticed that those who were initially squeamish but have had the opportunity to see the Exhibition first hand, impressions have changed. Many who planned to stay for a half hour end up staying for two.
Roy Glover: Thank you everyone. I appreciate such detailed and wonderful questions. The human body is very intricate and complex yet we all carry one with us from the time we are born until we breathe our last breath. What more practical information could a person want then knowledge about themselves and what lies beneath are own skin. I hope each of you will have the opportunity to visit the Dome in Rosslyn. We are in DC for a limited engagement and please look for more information on BODIES The Exhibition at bodiestickets.com. Thank you again. Dr. Roy Glover
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