For Budding Teen, ‘Bodies' Exhibit Holds Fascination


(Thursday, May 17, 2007 6:51 AM EDT)

Many people may shy away from going to “BODIES: The Exhibition” at the Rosslyn Dome, because the idea of observing real bodies and organs makes them squeamish.

But sixth-grader Alek Sung was ready to face any unappealing aspects of the human anatomy when he visited the exhibition recently.

His verdict?

“At first it made me feel grossed out,” Sung said. “But when I got used to [the exhibition], it was normal and interesting.”

The exhibition has nine galleries covering different parts of the human body, including the muscular, nervous, skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems, as well as the treated body and f.

“My favorite gallery was fetal development because you could see them grow,” he said. “It's very different from seeing it in a book.”

All the bodies on display are real human specimens that have been preserved. They were obtained from the Dalian Medical University Plastination Laboratories in China; according to the exhibit's organizers, all the individuals whose bodies are displayed died of natural causes.

Sung currently is learning about the nervous system at Lees Corner Elementary School in Chantilly, but he said he liked learning about the body through the exhibit because he got to see “the actual thing.”

A fan of trivia, Sung liked reading the tidbits of information written on the walls of the exhibition. He especially enjoyed learning that there are more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body.

Other parts of the exhibition that grabbed Sung's attention were a skeleton holding hands with its muscular structure (the muscle came from the same body, and had been separated from the bone), an entire body's skin and the “corrosion casted” matrix of blood vessels.

(“Corrosion casting” is process by which the vessels are injected with a colored polymer that hardens in the vessels' shape. The surrounding tissues are then removed, to expose the vessels.)

As gung-ho as Sung was about taking on the more disgusting elements of the body, a couple of things got to him.

“The reproduction system was a little disturbing,” he said. “The things that were kind of gross were the diseases and tumors on bones and body parts.”

But Sung said he could see how showing diseases, like lung cancer, could influence people's behaviors in a positive way and promote living a healthier lifestyle.

“When you look at a [diseased] lung, it disgusts you because you see what could be in your body,” he said. “I think by seeing it, the impact will last a lifetime.”

Tickets to the exhibition are $26.50 for adults, $21 for seniors and $18 for children age 4 to 12.

For more information on the exhibition, visit the Web site at To purchase tickets, call (888) BODIES-9 or see the Web site at

Alek Sung found some of the "Bodies" exhibit enlightening, and some a bit gross.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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