Tonawanda News

May 28, 2013

Body Worlds exhibit at Buffalo Museum of Science explores life-threatening diseases

By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — A new group of visitors scheduled to be at the Buffalo Museum of Science on Friday might feel a little exposed. We’re talking really exposed.

The latest show to grace the halls of the museum on Buffalo’s Humboldt Parkway will be a second visit by the Body Worlds exhibit. Body Worlds first made an appearance at BMS in 2009 in an exhibit that focused mostly on the heart. 

The new show, called “Vital,” deals more with the prevention, fighting and management of life-threatening diseases, museum CEO Mark Mortenson said.

The Body Worlds franchise of science and educational exhibits feature the human body dissected to varying degrees, permanently frozen by a process called plastination. The groundbreaking process was invented by scientist and researcher Dr. Gunther von Hagens as a way to permanently display a body in such a way as to be a learning tool.

Natural fluids inside the body are replaced with plastics, which is then hardened into poses that illustrate how our bodies internally respond to everyday movements and activities, a release from the museum said.

Mortenson said the actual human bodies are donated to van Hagen for the express purpose of being used in this way for the education of the public. 

The bodies were donated in “a very deliberate manner for the purpose of science education,” Mortenson said. “I feel (Body Worlds is) of superior quality because it’s very diligent and direct in its efforts in educating the public about the body and issues of the body.”

In Body Worlds “Vital,” for instance, a pair of healthy lungs may be displayed next to a pair damaged by disease. The display then shows viewers ways in which they can prevent that disease.

“The compelling takeaway (visitors can get) from the exhibit is the education about your own body and possible changes you may need to make in your own daily life in how you treat your body,” Mortenson said. “It shows you, in a really respectful way, the amazing gift we have in our human bodies.”

The exhibit will be up through September and will incorporate special visits by health coaches from Independent Health, a sponsor of the “Vital” show at Buffalo Museum of Science.

“This exhibit is a valuable way to learn about the potential of your body and how best to overcome life-threatening diseases through informed choices and lifestyle changes,” said Michael W. Cropp, president and CEO of Independent Health. “This exhibit and our partnership with the Buffalo Museum of Science align with our efforts to engage and educate Western New Yorkers on the benefits of adopting healthy lifestyles to create a culture of health in our community.”

Roswell Park Cancer Institute will also be involved with special programming. An as-yet-to-be-determined schedule of special programming can be found on the Buffalo Museum of Science’s website at

To further expand education about the body, museum officials are encouraging guests to visit the Explore YOU permanent science studio, which opened a year ago.

“It’s a natural progression from Body Worlds,” said Lisa Roy, BMS director of development and external relations.

The Explore YOU gallery was the first of eight permanent science studios to be opened at the museum over the next few years. The third studio, In Motion, is scheduled to open in June.

IF YOU GO • WHAT: Body Worlds "Vital" • WHEN: Begins Friday and runs through September. • WHERE: Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Parkway, Buffalo • MORE INFORMATION: Call 896-5200, or visit