Real Richmond Review: Body Worlds and the Brain

By: Lisa Ann Setchel and Ryan Setchel

What’s the body and brain all about anyway?

The Science Museum of Virginia knows for sure! Their incredibly powerful exhibit on Body Worlds and the Brain exhibit is amazing.

​What Mom Says

The Science Museum of Virginia  just happens to be my daughter’s favorite Richmond hot spot. She’s 12 but hey, who can blame her? That place is jam packed full of seriously cool stuff. I decided this was educational enough to yank her out of school and have her check it out with me. I was pretty excited about this exhibit — being a health enthusiast — but I had no idea what I was in for!

Right as you walk in you are greeted by real specimens from the start and all the way to the  finish. There are complete and partial human specimens  in various poses to display organs, muscles, tendons, blood vessels and any other intricate parts that keep us moving. There was the thinker, ice skaters, skater boy, yoga lady and other poses to really show what the body is pulling off right under the surface. One thing that I found truly educational was the orthopedic displays.

I caught myself saying these things:

  • That’s what Nana’s hip looks like
  • That’s what Daddy has in his head
  • Granny had that done to her back
  • That’s what uncle Larry’s lungs look like

I thought showing healthy organs versus diseased and or problematic conditions was brilliant. Some of the displays were artful and simply majestic like the spinal cord nerve tree, the ice skating couple and even the digestive system. The truth is the human body is the perfect miracle. I

Me with my daughter, Ryan, who is a 6th grader at Moody Middle School in the IB program.

What My Daughter (Ryan) Says:

Will I be donating my body for plastination?

Probably not, but looking at the ones on display at the Science Museum today was insanely cool. Plastination is a year-long process in which all of the fat and water in your body is removed and replaced with silicone rubber. As gross as it may sound, the result is fascinating to look at. It makes for the most life-like model of a human body that you could ever find, and the Body Worlds & the Brain exhibit at the Science Museum is full of them.

But these aren’t just plain-old standing-there models of the body; they’re actually in athletic positions, ranging from a yoga lady, to a ballet dancer, to an ice-skating pair. It’s a great way to really depict how the muscles and bones in your body look like when you’re being active, rather than looking at a model of a human body standing in front of you.

If you think that you’re going to this exhibit for a short glance at a few old bones, then you’re wrong.

Today we spent a good hour and a half looking at the amazing display of organs, muscles, nerves, and of course bones. At first I thought that the organ part of the exhibit was going to be gross, but it really wasn’t. In fact, the organ section was probably one of my favorite parts because it shows you how important each of your organs really is. Especially your lungs.

I guess I have one more thing to put on my list of reasons not to smoke. I would bet even a doctor could learn a little something at this exhibit. I personally loved the quotes along the walls and the grocery bill factoids along the exit. You do not want the grocery bill of a German family and that’s all I’m saying!   This is a wonderful exhibit for the family with middle or high schoolers because it is very cerebral and artisitic but not interactive like most of their exhibits.  

This mother/daughter team loved it.

“Although I wasn’t at school today, I learned a lot. Not in a ‘this-is-putting-me-to-sleep kind of way’. It was really fascinating, and I would recommend this to anybody, especially kids my age, because even though it might sound totally lame, once you get there you will be glad you came,” explains Ryan.

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Body Worlds  and the Brain