News / Halifax

'A unique glimpse into their inner self:' Body Worlds RX exhibit debuts in Halifax

The exhibit at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History shows real anatomical specimens on display that are all permanently preserved.

Media got a preview of the Body Worlds RX exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax on Thursday.

Marcus Tran/For Metro

Media got a preview of the Body Worlds RX exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax on Thursday.

Ever wondered what an actual smoker’s lung, a diseased liver or brain specimen from a stroke victim looks like?

Beginning Friday, all of this and more will be on display as the Body Worlds RX exhibit makes its Atlantic Canadian debut at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History.

All anatomical specimens on display are authentic and were donated by people who wanted their bodies to contribute to “the medical enlightenment” of non-medical folks.

“Body Worlds is an exhibition that allows anyone to get a unique glimpse into their inner self. We have real anatomical specimens on display that are all permanently preserved by a technology called Plastination,” explained Angelina Whalley, curator of all Body Worlds exhibits since the first one opened in 1995.

Plastination is described by Whalley as a vacuum process that allows body fluids to be removed and replaced with plastics that then harden.

“When all the water is gone no decay can take place and therefore the specimens hold more or less forever. They are dry. They are odourless, and we can put them in very beautiful, lifelike poses,” she explained.

“For many people it is so overwhelming to see what they are made of that they really reflect on their own lives.”

Whalley, who is a physician, said it’s much more effective to allow people to see with their own eyes what their healthy and unhealthy choices look like.

“I saw once a small boy at an exhibit, he might have been eight or nine, and he was so shocked by the smoker’s lung,” she recalled.

“He literally jumped at his father and said ‘Daddy, daddy I want you to stop smoking. I don’t want you to look like that.’ And it sounds so cute, but he definitely had a wonderful lesson for the rest of his life and it was very profound.”

Body Worlds RX opens at the Museum of Natural History on Friday and runs to April 22.

Body Worlds RX is one of the largest exhibits ever hosted at the museum, and there’s been a lot of public interest ahead of Friday’s opening.

“The social media response to the show has been overwhelming. We have never really had that level of interest in something that we were about to do,” said museum spokesperson Jeff Gray.

“It has been unbelievable and overwhelmingly positive.”

Whalley said what she likes about this particular Body Worlds exhibit is its potential to inspire people.

“I really love people leaving the exhibition inspired, having a different view of themselves, a different idea of their own lifestyle and choices they make,” she said.

“And perhaps it will inspire some to refrain from smoking, to do more exercise, to eat healthier food. The most rewarding part for me is if this happens.”

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