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"Our Body"

This traveling show of “polymer impregnated” bodies is more educational (albeit, less pretty) than its competitor “Body Worlds,”...

Photograph: Felix Benoist, Basilica of St. Vincent, 1861, Courtesy Special Collections and Archives, DePaul University Library

This traveling show of “polymer impregnated” bodies is more educational (albeit, less pretty) than its competitor “Body Worlds,” which came to the Museum of Science and Industry in 2005. The International Museum of Surgical Science iteration of “Our Body: The Universe Within” is divided into systems—e.g. digestive, musculoskeletal—and dispersed throughout the museum’s permanent collection. In the last decade, these exhibits have raised troubling questions, and this one still asks, science or freak show? While edging ever closer to the former, it seems to choose shock value over information. To wit: In one display, a cadaver, sliced open to feature a female reproductive system, sits next to IMSS’s old painting of a fully conscious woman whose uterus is being removed. The organs are enlightening, but the powerful juxtaposition—sans text—leaves a lot to be explained.

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