May 11, 2010 - Our Bodies - The Universe Within

     We just returned from the Our Bodies - The Universe Within exhibit on the U.T. campus, and I'm still not sure what to make of the whole thing.  In a nutshell, the exhibit is comprised of numerous actual human cadavers and body parts - all preserved through a special polymer process - dissected to illustrate the inner functions of the human body and thematically arranged by body function categories (respiratory, reproductive, digestive, muscular/skeletal,
     While the exhibit definitely lives up to its educational promise, the level of medical explanation is more trivia-like and rarely ascends above 8th grade physical science.       The educational information is limited, although a timeline on the history of anatomical studies proved fascinating.  The level of detail achieved by displaying actual body sections delivers the exhibits biggest "wow" factor, showing the realism of the of the human body inner workings in a manner no other exhibit could achieve.  
     While the 200 actual preserved bodies and body parts unnerved some of the visitors we encountered as we explored the exhibits, you've actually seen more graphic depictions on CSI or House.  It was refreshing to see parents discussing the science and health issues candidly with their children - especially one father who explained the body parts and their functions to his preschool daughter ("you know when you get the hiccups?  It's this part of your body…).
   Some aspects of the exhibit are visually stunning.  The preserved cardiovascular depictions of the body's blood system - in particular the individual major organs - are intricately displayed, looking like fragile fan corals.  And the display of an entire human body, cut into half-inch slices from head to toe and stretched out on a table, shows the intricacy of
the your inner workings in startling detail.
     The exhibit also includes a separate room, detailing human fetal development from inception to birth.  The week-by-week explanation of human development in the womb takes the edge off of realizing you are viewing real preserved babies on display.
    The lobby of the new Stark Center, located in the north end of the Darrel Royal Memorial Stadium, features formal artwork, antique posters, and displays on physical fitness and body-building that comprise a separate exhibit experience.  The educational value of the lobby displays alone are worth the trip to the exhibit.
   The Our Bodies - The Universe Within exhibit will continue daily through the summer.  For more information, visit

(Photos courtesy Hook'em Marketing)