3900 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV, 891191000
Type: Museums And Exhibits, Family Friendly
Partying, seeing a show and gambling usually top the to-do lists of people who are visiting Las Vegas. Although educational exhibits are not what most people think of when they are planning their trip, BODIES…The Exhibition continues to be a big draw for tourists. This compelling attraction, created by Premiere Exhibitions, Inc., demonstrates the fascinating inner workings of the human body through displays of human specimens.
"We have had great success with BODIES. We have had over 10 million people see it so far and over half a million U.S. school children see it. It just continues to be a very positive experience for the company and for the visitors," said Tom Zaller, the vice president of exhibitions for Premier Exhibitions, Inc. He also attributes the exhibition's success to its universal content matter. Unlike other exhibits that people might breeze through because they are uninterested in what's being displayed, BODIES…The Exhibition is about everyone.
"Most people go through exhibitions and they read 10 percent of what's on the wall, if that. They sort of see something and walk away, and here they are engaged because they care about themselves. This is an exhibition about yourself that really touches people on multiple levels," said Zaller.
Premiere Exhibitions, Inc. was originally founded in 1987 as RMS Titanic Incorporated to do the research and recovery work on the wreck site of the Titanic. The company later put together Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, which is currently at the Tropicana and slated to move to the Luxor in November. In 2003, Premiere Exhibitions, Inc. was formed, and after having great success with the Titanic, the company decided to focus on human anatomy for their next exhibition.
Zaller and his team met with Dr. Roy Glover, the head of the anatomy department at the University of Michigan Medical School. Through Glover, Premiere Exhibitions, Inc. came in contact with a professor at the Dalian Medical University in China who was working on an innovative process for preserving the human body called polymer preservation.
In this process, the body is treated with chemicals to prevent decay until it is dissected to expose a specific structure or organ. Then the specimen is treated with acetone to remove all the water from it. Next, it is placed in a vacuum chamber filled with liquid silicone. The acetone turns into a gas and is replaced by the liquid silicone, which later hardens and retains the appearance of the original specimen. Full-body specimens can take more than a year to prepare and once they have undergone the polymer preservation process they can last indefinitely.
BODIES…The Exhibition, currently in nine locations worldwide, opened in Las Vegas at the Tropicana in June of 2006 and moved in August of 2008 to Luxor where Premiere Exhibitions, Inc. has signed a 10-year deal. The 36,800-square-foot exhibition center at Luxor showcases more than 260 full-body, organ and partial body specimens that have been carefully maintained using polymer preservation.
The exhibits in BODIES… The Exhibition are arranged by the different systems in the human body. It starts with the skeletal system and then moves on to more complex systems in the body. Designing the exhibition with the skeletal system as the first display was a good way to get people to start with something that they were familiar with, according to Zaller.
"When someone goes to the exhibition they don't know what they are going to get… We sort of ease people into it and then they get comfortable and then they come around another corner and they get a wow...," said Zaller.
One of the "wow" moments in BODIES… the Exhibition is the Fetal Gallery, an exhibit that features embryonic and fetal development beginning 26 days after conception through 32 weeks old. It is amazing to see how humans miraculously develop from what looks like a small speck into a discernable body. Another fascinating exhibit is one that demonstrates the complex matrix created by the various blood vessels in the human body. The specimens on display in this exhibit have been injected with a colored polymer that has hardened to reveal the intricate system responsible for transporting blood throughout the body.
Along with the displays, there are different-sized signs with interesting facts about the human body that hang on the walls and make it easy for everyone to absorb information even if they are not willing to spend time stopping at and reading the longer explanations posted on each exhibit.
Did you know that the human body has more than 100 miles of blood vessels; after conception everyone spends 30 minutes as a single cell and that the brain requires 20 percent of the body's total blood supply? These are just a few of the interesting facts that you can pick up during your visit.
The displays also highlight common health issues that affect people all over the world. In the respiratory system part of the exhibition, there is a display with a healthy lung and one that has been severely damaged by years of smoking cigarettes. For people who feel the sudden urge to quit smoking, there is a box next to the display to throw away their cigarettes. This eye-opening display is one of several real life examples of how unhealthy behaviors impact the human body.
Besides informing people about what unhealthy behaviors can do, BODIES…The Exhibition also aims to educate people about themselves and to help them make more informed decisions when it comes to their own health care.
"It really shows how amazing the body is and how you really need to take care of it," said Lauri Egbert, from Salt Lake City, after leaving the exhibition.
"It's real and it's everyday and it's powerful. We are lucky to have a great subject matter that crosses all boundaries. Everybody is interested in their own body… Wherever you come from, when you take the skin off we are all the same inside, and it's really powerful on a lot of levels," said Zaller.