Bodies – The Exhibition – Tucson, AZ

DISCLAIMER #1 – The article which you are about to read contains photos published with permission. All photographs in this article were taken by me, and remain the property of Lael Clark / Crucible Zine and Premier Exhibitions. All Rights Reserved. All of the photos have been watermarked by Crucible Zine, and the use of these photographs for any reason, without the express written consent of Premier Exhibitions is forbidden.

DISCLAIMER #2 – The photographs in the following article are of an explicit nature, and show the human body in different states of dissection for the purpose of education. View at your own risk.

     When I found out that I was going to BODIES – THE EXHIBITION, I knew that I had to write about it. I contacted Ms. Kelly Lovell-Taylor, the Tucson Media Contact for Junxion Marketing and Media, who provided me with a press pass, and permission to take the following photographs. Before I go any farther, I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to Ms. Taylor for this amazing opportunity!


     Going into this, I knew that there had been a lot of controversy, which I will get into a bit later. My fiance brought up the idea of going to this with her parents, and I readily agreed. My 12 year old future stepdaughter went to the exhibit with her father, and loved it. So I knew I had to see it for myself, and allowed my love of learning to take over. We went on Sunday, June 6th, and I do hope to return before the end of the engagement. This was, by far, the most fascinating exhibit I have ever had the honor of attending.

     This will be an overview, as opposed to a play-by-play, due to the depth of information and knowledge to be had. You simply must go to this to see for yourself. Here in Tucson, it is being held at The Rialto Building downtown (address and price info is at the end of the article).  Once inside, the layout of the whole thing is sectioned off, based on the various bodily systems you will see next. The first thing you encounter upon entering is a bare skeleton. In this section, you see the layering on of muscle tissue, and the respiratory and digestive systems. Now, as soon as you enter, you realize that this is not your typical museum exhibit. Not only do you get to see these systems, but you see them in more of a “real world” scenario. The bodies are posed in a manner that shows them performing different activities, and the way the body works while performing that activity; For example, conducting an orchestra, playing tennis, and in one room, a soccer player diving for the ball. 

     These posed action examples are offset by glass-case enclosed exhibits, that give you a more focused look. One of the main factors I noticed throughout, was the artistic nature of how it was all put together. I was hearing reports from people of how the exhibit was “too explicit for kids”, or “macabre”…I can’t agree with these criticisms.

     As we were making our way through this first room, I noticed a little boy of about 6 who was visibly upset by his first few minutes in. I noticed this same little boy in a different area, some 30 minutes later, completely fascinated and intently studying the displays as closely as he could.

     While the primary focus of the exhibition was to show how the body works, another focus was different maladies that we, as humans, bring upon ourselves. There are displays showing cancers of the lungs, esophagus, and breasts. The lung cancer display, for example, shows the healthy lungs of a non-smoker, and the cancerous lungs of a smoker. Situated between the two was a clear box for people to deposit their tobacco products into, if they are moved by the display to quit smoking. Apparently, more than a few were, as there were probably a carton’s worth of partial cigarette packs in the depository when I walked past it.

     The reproductive system (pictured above), circulatory system (pictured below), nervous system, fetal development and more are all broken down for you in ways that the layman can appreciate. Nothing ever goes above your head.

     Taking the very different approach of using actual cadavers, instead of plastic sculpture and artist rendition, the accuracy of the information you are absorbing is truly there in spades. It’s like taking a collegiate anatomy class in an art museum. Throughout the exhibition, you are accompanied by quiet classical music, and attendants in lab coats are on hand at all times to answer pretty much any question you may have.

     With all the positive to be said for BODIES – THE EXHIBITION, I do have a couple of minor qualms. Ironically enough, the aforementioned attendants are my first. While they were available to answer your questions, it seemed that their knowledge was not uniform from attendant to attendant. For example, I asked three different attendants where the bodies came from to begin with (This has been the main point of controversy attached to the whole exhibition). I got three different answers. The most humorous of these came from one attendant who joked with my lady and I as he walked away about hoping “that this place isn’t haunted now…”.

     My second is with the size of the Tucson version. This is being shown in other cities, and as such, some of those other cities’ exhibitions are reportedly quite a bit bigger. I spoke with one man who said that the one in Las Vegas was two stories, with three times as many displays. It just seemed like here, when you were finished, you weren’t really…finished. It left me wanting more.

     Those two statements made, however, I have to go on record to say this: If the only difference between other cities’ exhibitions is the size, anyone who goes to see BODIES – THE EXHIBITION will be in for an eye-opening treat. The admission price is absolutely reasonable, and the knowledge you will gain is tremendous. Not only entertaining, BODIES… will give you pause to think about how you are treating your body. Beautiful in its artistry, vast in it’s depth, and fascinating in it’s sheer reality, BODIES – THE EXHIBITION is highly recommended for all. Go see this. You will not be disappointed.

     There is still plenty of time to see BODIES… in Tucson, as the 8-week engagement opened on May 15th. Please check the website for open days and times in your city, as well as admission prices and more.

In Tucson:

The Rialto Building, 300 East Congress

Admission: $22 adult, $14 children

Discount tickets are available.                                                                                                                                                                                       


4 Responses to “Bodies – The Exhibition – Tucson, AZ”

  1. Did you bother to ask yourself where the bodies came from and was there any actual proof that they weren’t Chinese political prisoners who disappeared?

    • There was no actual proof of anything in relation to where the bodies came from. What has been said is that they are unclaimed bodies, and that a) they are from China, and b) that the procurement of the bodies is 100% legal and above board, which is good enough for me considering the educational value on display.

  2. ABC news reported that proof:

    But besides that, laws don’t dictate right and wrong. There are so many examples of this. It used to be illegal in the US to be a runaway slave. That doesn’t mean that catching them was the right thing to do.

    In many Islamic countries like Pakistan or Morocco, it is illegal to be in a heavy metal band. Does this mean that since there is a law against it, the cops are right in arresting band members?

    • I will admit first and foremost that I did not follow the video links as I am at work currently. However…Throughout the entirety of the printed ABC News article, the phrase “may be…” is stated in black and white fairly often. This is not proof. This is speculation. Speculation is not, in any way, unadulterated proof.
      Secondly, you raise an interesting issue regarding the situation with heavy metal bands in Islamic countries. This is something I am well versed in, through the excellent documentary “Heavy Metal In Baghdad”, and following the band featured in the biopic, Acrassicauda. I applaud them for escaping that opression and making their way, but it goes much farther than simply arresting a band member. You don’t even have to BE a band member in these countries. If you are wearing a heavy metal band tshirt, you can be shot dead in the streets. I am a strong supporter of Acrassicauda and others like them, because I DO understand what they are going through.
      How does this situations relate to the Bodies exhibit? It doesn’t. The question is one of morality.

      “Body Exhibit Inventor Says He’s Stopped Using Bodies From China Because Some of Them May Be Those of Executed Prisoners”

      This tells me that morality was self served here. Are you truly naive enough to think that research was not done on the current crop of exhibits? My thought processes tell me that once this man came to the realization and stopped using bodies from China, he would have gone back to do the research, making sure that what he already has out in the public eye is not guilty of that which he, himself has perceived as immoral and objectionable.

      If you are looking to further a witchunt, my friend, you are in the wrong era and wrong part of the country.

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