Bodies Revealed Exhibit at Turtle Bay
Story: Kerri Regan
It’s miraculous and mysterious, complex and resilient. Billions exist, yet no two are the same.
This is the human body – the star of the show in “Bodies Revealed” at Turtle Bay Exploration Park, which has provided an unparalleled educational opportunity for scholars, professors and medical professionals.
“Having the exhibition there has given me the opportunity to show things that are difficult to show in models,” says Scott Croes, Ph.D., who teaches anatomy, physics and biology at Shasta College. He is one of 28 medical professionals who volunteer at the exhibition, and he helped train Turtle Bay’s 21 docents.
The exhibition has also served as a supplemental laboratory for Bill Masten, who teaches EMT classes at Shasta College’s fire academy. The displays are painstakingly and artistically preserved using polymer preservation, which showcases the complexity of the body’s bones, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and organs.
“To be a good medical responder, you’ve got to know how the car works, so to speak. It’s like being a body mechanic,” Masten says. “‘Bodies Revealed’ gives students the opportunity to see what we’re really talking about.”
Because his students provide patient care before they arrive at the hospital, it’s critical for them to picture the difference between chest pain and a heart attack, or to see what goes on inside the body when a patient is in shock.
EMT students can also get a visual on the “ripple effect” of certain injuries, Masten says. For instance, seeing the human leg bone and the surrounding bulky muscles help make it clear why paramedics put a traction splint on a broken femur, which is so large that the jagged bone could tear right through adjoining muscles, arteries and nerves, he says.
“There’s nothing that compares to ‘Bodies Revealed,’” Masten says. “It has more to offer than any other experience I’ve been through.”
It has also been valuable to people who are curious about their own medical conditions, Masten has observed.
“People with chronic pain want to see what it looks like, and they want someone – in a reasonable and rational way – to explain it to them,” he says. “People want to see for themselves. It’s like an epiphany – ‘Oh, I have carpal tunnel syndrome and look, there’s a tunnel right there in the wrist.’”
Visitors have also asked Croes, during his volunteer hours, about their health conditions. “If they’ve had a balloon angioplasty or a heart bypass, we can show them directly what parts are being affected. People are amazed.”
Folks are fascinated by the factoids that permeate the exhibition, many of which are highlighted in a self-guided audio tour (adult and child versions are available). A sampling: If all your muscles worked together, you could lift more than 10 tons. Every drop of your blood passes through your heart once a minute. Your 100,000 miles of blood vessels would wrap around the earth twice, and if you live to be 70, your heart will pump more than a million barrels of blood.
Preventing disease and protecting one’s good health is echoed throughout the exhibition. A shrunken, black smoker’s lung sits in stark contrast to a healthy lung, and visitors learn that each pack of cigarettes takes away three hours and 40 minutes of one’s life. A plastic container collects cast-off cigarette packs of those who are moved to quit, right then and there.
Exercise and healthy eating are also explored. Visitors discover that people must consume 3,500 calories more than they burn in order to gain one pound – and 70 percent of cardiovascular disease and 40 percent of breast/colon cancer is found in obese people.
When Croes volunteers at the exhibition (usually on Saturdays), he has been able to demonstrate what a heart and lung actually feel like.
“The lungs feel like strawberry chiffon Jell-O or memory foam,” Croes says. “You blow into the lungs and expand them out, and it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s a great teaching tool for docents and for people coming to the exhibit.”
To that end, the exploration park has hosted art classes, a film screening and a blood drive in conjunction with the exhibition.
“We realized what a wonderful opportunity it presented for artists. Here was a chance for them to study and draw the actual anatomy that is usually hidden under the skin,” says Mary Harper, Turtle Bay’s education and programs manager.
Upcoming offerings include garden yoga in the McConnell Celebration Garden from 7:30 to 8:30 am Thursdays through Aug. 21, Tai Chi from 10 to 11:30 am Aug. 3, 10 and 17, a talk by senior Olympian John Oakes at 10:30 am Aug. 9, and “Nude versus Naked: An Artist’s Look at Human Anatomy and the Power of Human Form in Art” at 7 pm Aug. 20. Turtle Bay has also provided standards-based lesson plans for elementary through high school students.
“The body is more complex than the most sophisticated gadget,” says Dr. Roy Glover, chief medical director for “Bodies Revealed” producer Premier Exhibitions. “You learn how complicated and wonderful it is, and you take better care of it… It’s a beautiful opportunity for people to be more in touch with the bodies they live in.”