By Yekaterina Kravtsova
The St. Petersburg Times
Published: October 26, 2011 Issue #1680
Dead Bodies Attract Crowds at Anatomy Exhibition
‘There is a need to make it more evolutionary to show people who a human is, where they come from,’ said Nevzorov, one of the exhibition’s trustees.
Russia’s first open anatomic exhibition, ‘The Human Body,’ celebrated its anniversary last week. The results are astonishing considering it has only been open for a year: The exhibition has had more than 100,000 visitors — a third of them children — and received two books of positive feedback from fans, while only nine people have fainted — with one filmed incident in which three visitors lost consciousness simultaneously.
The display is possible thanks to the research of Russian scientists including Ivan Goivorovsky, a professor of anatomy at the Military Medical Academy, whose work led to the development of a unique polymer embalming technique. This technique allows dead human bodies and organs to be kept on display without posing any danger to visitors.
It took 20 years for Goivorovsky to assemble a collection and to make it look like the exhibit items do today. The majority of people visiting the exhibition may expect to see something morbid or disgusting, but in fact the beauty of nature remains evident. With the intelligent arrangement of the bodies and parts, and some skillful lighting, the human bodies look like museum objects.
This is the first time an exhibition has shown the body this way, in comparison to examining pathology in the human body. This makes ”The Human Body” exhibition interesting and useful not only for those curious to learn more about their bodies, but also for medical students and professionals.
Cultivating a new generation of outstanding doctors is an important goal to keep in mind in the quest to make progress in science and medicine. Organizers of ”The Human Body,” closely collaborate with schools and children’s homes to educate children and promote interest in the sciences. After visiting this exhibit, some children’s curiosity has been piqued and they have voiced plans to pursue careers in medicine.
This year, the exhibition has added to its collection of organs, which helps people better understand the processes and workings of our internal organs.
”Anatomy is an exact science; it helps people look at their lives in an easier and more courageous way. It educates optimists,” said Alexander Nevzorov, an exhibition trustee.
The exhibit is popular not only among scientific minds, but among more creative types as well. Located in one of the Litsedei Theater rehearsal rooms, the show has become a favorite place for actors to visit. Anton Adasinsky, one of the theater’s actors, said that knowing how the body works is of vital importance for becoming a good actor.
Painter Rasim Agayev often works in the hall where the exhibition is held.
”The exhibition helps to uncover the truth and strives to find an origin. When people understand the harmony of the universe, it becomes possible to depict it in a work of art,” said Agayev.
A collaboration event with artists has been announced and is in the works. An art competition dedicated to the human body will be judged by Boris Trubnikov, head of the Severnaya Palmyra art project. The best works will be put on display at the exhibition.
Organizers are trying not to limit the development of the exhibition.
”There is a need to make it more evolutionary to show people who a human is, where they come from,” said Nevzorov. This year, items such as moving human and canine skeletons were added to show the core differences between human and animal structures.
It’s as yet undecided how long the exhibition will run for, but organizers and supporters agree that it should be a permanent exhibition.
”The items will last for a long time and for many generations. It can already be called a museum of the 21st century with modern technical and presentation facilities,” said Goivorovsky.
The exhibit has been compared with German anatomist Gunther von Hagens’ ”Body World,” a show of dead bodies. ”The Human Body” exhibition, however, possesses no ”show” qualities and was created for educational purposes only.