Bodies … The Exhibition explores our self-contained worlds of wonder
By Josh Bell
Photos By Christopher DeVargas
Most entertainment in Las Vegas isn’t out to teach you anything, and that’s OK. Las Vegas is a place for escapism and spectacle, and going to see a show or visit an attraction is usually a chance to cut loose and forget about the outside world for a little while. But Las Vegas can also be a place for becoming more engaged with the world, and one of the best places to do that is at Bodies … The Exhibition at Luxor, a unique opportunity to learn about the intricacies and wonders of our human bodies.
Yes, those are actual human bodies that you will see at the exhibition, preserved via a process known as polymer preservation. According to materials from Premier Exhibitions, it’s “a revolutionary technique in which human tissue is permanently preserved using liquid silicone rubber. This prevents the natural process of decay, making the specimens available for study for an indefinite period of time.” In other words, the bodies and human organs on display look just as clear and detailed as any model, except that they’re completely real, offering an unprecedented level of insight and accuracy.
What’s the value of using real human bodies rather than carefully constructed models? “Seeing promotes understanding, and understanding promotes the most practical kind of body education possible,” says Dr. Roy Glover, the exhibition’s chief medical director, in the exhibition’s frequently asked questions. As you walk into the attraction, the first thing you see is a room displaying bones, so anyone who’s a little skeptical can ease into the presentation. Right away, however, it’s obvious that the skeleton on display is different from a model you might see in a science class, and just realizing that these bones came from real human beings adds a level of gravity and significance to the experience.
As you make your way through the exhibition, you can see rooms dedicated to the various systems of the body, as well as entire preserved bodies, often in familiar poses, throwing a football or digging a ditch or sitting in contemplation. There’s beauty here, too, especially in the room devoted to the circulatory system, where blood vessels, arteries and even hearts are suspended in fluid and vividly colored, looking almost like abstract art. Although Bodies is at times a somber experience, there’s no reason why it can’t have a little Las Vegas flair as well.
Other parts of the exhibition demonstrate the condition of diseased organs and chart the development of a fetus, and the variety of ways of looking at the human body can be astonishing. While some cities have closed down other Bodies exhibitions, visitors in Las Vegas have the chance to see this remarkable exploration of the human condition up close. With all of the amazing feats on display in town (acrobats contorting, singers coaxing beautiful sounds from their vocal chords, dancers engaged in graceful, fluid motion), Bodies offers a look into the origin of everything that is wonderful and miraculous about how humans function.