A couple of weeks ago we took the team up to London for a day off to visit Body Worlds, a new permanent museum taking the place of Ripley’s Believe it or Not in Piccadilly.
For me, and I imagine a lot of Brits, you might remember your first encounter with one half of the brains behind Body Worlds, Dr. Gunther von Hagens, on a Channel 4 documentary in 2002 as he performed the first public autopsy in the UK in 170 years. Fun fact: A public autopsy was deemed a criminal act at the time and the Met Police watched on in the audience, but didn’t arrest him. It also broke the OFCOM record for the most number of complaints. We’re a reserved bunch in the UK.
Fast forward nearly 20 years and the travelling Body Worlds exhibit has been seen by almost 50million people in over 140 cities. But until now, it’s never had a permanent home. Naturally, Curiscope had to visit.
Body Worlds is a strange place, let’s not kid ourselves. Weirdly, the human anatomy is one of the last taboos, and it feels odd or maybe even uncomfortable as you walk around, with the constant reminder that these bodies around you aren’t just models, they’re real people who have donated their bodies to Science.
What attracts me though is this idea that the world beneath our skin is odd, unseen and incredibly unfamiliar. Yet it is the thing that powers us all, quietly working away every second of every single day from birth to death. It always struck me as odd that this could ever be seen as unmentionable or strange or that it ever needed to be represented in a censored manner, yet it is. And I’ve always thought this is a big mistake and one that disconnects us from our health and wellbeing.
And as it is with Body Worlds, this was the motivation behind the Virtuali-Tee; contextualise the reality of the body and connect human beings to their anatomy. It sounds like a super simple thing, and one that some have even perceived to be gimmicky, but to think that is to misunderstand how important a relationship this is to enable. If we are able to connect kids to their anatomy in the context of their own bodies, not just a diagram or a model, then they will be able to fully understand the impact that good diet and exercise can have. And we might also create some wannabe scientists in the process.
So in a world where we fight almost on the daily with companies like Facebook who want to censor images of our product because it might offend (this really happens!), I love to see organisations exist like Body Worlds. As you wander through the exhibit you gain an entirely new perspective on what it means to live and to be alive, and a very appropriate sense of awe about how complex and fascinating the human body is. Because it genuinely is, and we don’t get to experience that enough.
Oh, and we are of course now stocking the Virtuali-Tee in the Body Worlds store. I don’t think there’s a more fitting place for this product in the entire world.