Bodies: The Exhibition
At a Glance
What is it?
A curated exhibit of whole and pieces of human bodies designed to provide a glimpse inside us to see how we really work.
Where is it?
At Luxor on the South Strip. It’s located on the second floor attractions level.
Is it worth the cost?
Maybe. It’s one of the more expensive attractions on The Strip so it really depends on how interested you are in the subject.
What else do I need to know?
This is definitely not for the squeamish or easily morally confused.
What’s the bottom line?
It’s absolutely fascinating on many levels and kinda gross on quite a few as well.
As a part of its effort to de-Egypt the hotel, Luxor’s attraction level above the casino got some new tenants. The IMAX theater went away along with the game arcade and in its place (or at least part of it) is “Bodies: The Exhibition.” It’s kind of ironic when you think about it – the pyramid is less Egypt but finally has dead bodies in it. Oh well.
The space is really the only thing different about the exhibition from when it played across the street at the Tropicana for a couple of years. The rooms seem smaller mostly because the ceilings are lower, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It feels more intimate, something that is appropriate for an exhibit of this nature, but also more claustrophobic.
Or perhaps that’s just my ongoing conflict about the attraction as a whole. On the one hand, “Bodies: The Exhibition” is a fascinating exploration of the human body from the inside out, giving visitors a look at the inner workings of our anatomy in a way that previously could not have been imagined.
On the other hand, interesting as it may be, it’s a little gross.
The bodies in this particular exhibition are real, formerly live, human beings whose specimens have been put through a special process that preserves them without decay. This happens after they have been dissected to display the inner workings of a specific part of our physiology, be it the central nervous system, skin, musculature, bones, internal organs, or just about any other part of the human body.
There are over twenty full body specimens on display throughout the facility and countless other pieces of people, enough probably to build another human or two out of them. Some are presented straightforwardly, a slab of whatever under a pin light with an explanation while others are done almost whimsically; a slice of a kidney injected with colorful dye, for instance, to illuminate the rivers of capillaries that run through it.
There are two different ways to approach a viewing of this exhibition: as science or as art. From a scientific standpoint, clinically detached, this is truly a remarkable opportunity to quite literally see inside the human body. If you have even a passing interest in what makes us tick, this is absolutely a must-see event.
From an artistic perspective, many of the displays are worthy of being shown in a museum – and in fact have, since versions of this exhibition have been shown in galleries and museums around the world. One specimen is displayed as a series of slices, from head to toe, almost the view that one of those full body scan machines might take. The result is a powerful one, especially if you are choosing to view these specimens as some sort of artistic statement.
So that’s the way to go into this place – as an appreciator of science or art. And you need to commit fully and block out those creeping little voices in your head that are going, “ewwwww.” I had a hard time blocking out those little voices.
These are real people or pieces of real people. There have been some tough questions asked about where and how they acquire the specimens (mostly China, possibly in ways that would give most people pause) but regardless of their origin they were once living, breathing human beings.
Which brings up my other question about the exhibit: is it “appropriate?” From start to finish in the exhibit itself, on the website, and in the literature about it they keep using words like “sensitive” and “respectful” to refer to the presentations. It’s even printed on a wall at one point, which makes one wonder if it is a little bit of whistling in a graveyard – keep repeating it and maybe it will be true?
I bring this up because one portion of the exhibition is dedicated to children and pre-natal displays, with several fetuses in different stages of development being shown. A warning is posted outside this room revealing its contents and giving visitors the chance to skip it if they feel they may be disturbed by what is inside. I guess I feel that the same warning should be posted outside the main entrance.
I guess I just have a hard time believing these people ever envisioned their former selves cut open to reveal their reproductive systems, on display in front of hordes of people in a Las Vegas casino.
But whether or not it’s appropriate or respectful? I’m still conflicted.