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Are Dead Human Bodies Fun for Kids?

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The bizarre "Body Worlds" exhibit continues its tour across the U.S. How old should kids be to see it?


It really doesn't get weirder than this. Body Worlds, an exhibit featuring dead bodies preserved in a process called plastination, has been seen by more than 25 million people around the globe. To date, over 800 people have signed up to be donors.

The question is: When is your child able to cope with such a morbid concept? (For that matter, when are you?)

On display are 200 human bodies, sliced and diced--reducing the human form to so much lunch meat.

Also, genitals are fully displayed, so not only are kids staring at naked bodies, they're examining naked dead bodies.

Most museums insist parents accompany kids if they're under 13, but they don't restrict children of any age. Would you take your child to a "Body Worlds" Exhibit?

Click on an image to view the Body World's Gallery

next: Ex on a Rampage
20 comments so far | Post a comment now
SugarPlumFairy March 19, 2008, 1:38 PM

It was hard for ME to get through the exhibit, esp. when they got to the dead babies section. I couldn’t take my kids to see it.

Susan Hiller March 19, 2008, 1:38 PM

I was squeamish about the exhibit before I saw it, but it’s not as shocking as you might think. Several school-aged kids were going through when I was there, and although I did overhear a few snickers around the male specimens’ genitals, the kids really seemed to embrace the anatomy lesson and health aspects. When you see a normal lung next to a blackened smoker’s lung, you can’t deny the effects of smoking. You can also learn about the cardio-vascular system and test your blood pressure. Each parent should decide whether or not their kid will benefit from the exhibit, but the educational impact is phenomenal.

dixiegirl March 19, 2008, 2:01 PM

My mom and I are going this weekend to the same thing in Mobile, Alabama. My mom works in medicine so she’s really interested in it. I think it will be something to see.

We’re bringing along my 3 year old son and I’m not worried at all. He will not understand really what he’s seeing.

Rachel March 19, 2008, 2:10 PM

I don’t think it’s a big deal at all. Kids should know about sexual organs as well as the rest of the body. My five year went and thought it was very interesting. But maybe we’re desensitized, I was a bio major and there were fetuses in jars in our lab and she’s been looking at national geographic since she could crawl.

Trentsmommy March 19, 2008, 3:08 PM

My friend is a nurse and saw it when it was in NYC, she said it was very interesting, but the baby section was even a bit disturbing for her as well as the section of woman during dif trimesters of their pregnancies. To Dixiegirl, If I were you I would re-think taking your 3 yr old. My son is 2 and I’m pretty sure he would be confused and upset seeing dead babies with no skin on them….I would have a hard time seeing dead babies myself….

Jodi March 19, 2008, 3:10 PM

I wouldn’t take my kids to the exhibit for the same reason I won’t be going to see it: The companies who run these cannot clearly identify that the people whose bodies are used in the exhibit gave their consent. The ethics behind the whole concept are just too murky for my stomach.

Anonymous March 19, 2008, 3:34 PM

Why does this article refer to the exhibit as “weird”?

Andrea March 19, 2008, 4:16 PM

Is spending the afternoon staring at eviscerated dead bodies “normal” for you?

Sarah March 20, 2008, 3:26 PM

Think about what it will teach your kids. This is deeper than squeamishness. These victims did not consent to this horror. What does that teach your children about what is acceptable? It will teach them to objectify others. It will teach them how easy it is to make money however you want to, even at the cost of disrespect for another person. It will teach them insenstitivity and how to disconnect from suffering in the name of education. It will teach them that maybe what Mengele learned in the name of science and education was OK.

Tara March 24, 2008, 4:49 PM

I took my 7 year old and she was fascinated by the whole thing. It’s life, it’s the human body, and it’s a wonderful, educational exhibit.

Anonymous March 25, 2008, 11:45 PM

perspective is the key.

Dave Robison May 27, 2008, 8:32 AM

My daughter(adult) and I went to see it in Mobile, AL this past weekend. I was amazed by the exhibit and a companion IMAX film. I blogged about it myself.

The only warning I would give someone is that in Mobile, a section of the exhibit displayed stages of pregnancy. (Which means pregnancy was stopped for some reason, which allowed for a specimen in that state.)

Signs clearly stated that some people may be too sensitive or have objection to that room and are instructed to enjoy anothe rpart of the exhibit, if they wish.


Julie June 30, 2008, 8:19 PM

My husband and I saw this exhibit and chose not to take our kids. I found some displays fascinating and others freaked me out. A few times I felt as if the eyes were following me. Yes, I know…this is why I don’t go see scary movies either. I can freak myself out just fine. I overheard some boys about my son’s age and they were grossed out. I think it really depends on the child and their level of interest in science.

Sharmo June 30, 2008, 8:33 PM

I’ve seen this display twice (in 2 different cities) and all of my kids—11,8 and 6, have seen it. There are some giggles over the male genitals, but they were really fascinated by it, and especially by the healthy vs. unhealthy lungs. It’s not gross—it’s real and it’s educational.

Mel July 1, 2008, 12:42 AM

I saw this exhibit and thought it was fascinating. Of course, each parent must take their child’s temperment into consideration, but the human body is a fascinating thing, and yes, it is “weird”, but only because the body is weird. As far as obtaining consent, I’m sure the curators would be happy to provide you with that information. These are not “vicitms”, they are wonderful human beings who have donated their bodies for our knowledge.

jane July 1, 2008, 9:32 AM

I don’t think my kids could handle it, they are 7 and 9—but quite squeamish. Glad I read these comments before taking them!

Kristen Fortuna July 1, 2008, 12:41 PM

For the people who say that the live specimens didn’t give their consent, if you are an organ donor, they can use your body however they see fit and you really have no control over if you’re giving your organs to a donor, or maybe ending up at this place. Or maybe they have a special way to take donations. In all seriousness, I don’t think they go to the morgue to pick people who’s families don’t know they didn’t get buried in the casket, lol.

Denise July 2, 2008, 7:57 AM

I took my son when he was under two the first time and he loved it. So when it came around this time at 4 1/2, he begged me to take him again. So it didn’t even don on me that he could possibly be too young. And he thoroughly enjoyed it again. We used it as a learning topic about health, on eating right, on taking care of yourself and getting exercise. I even talked to him about the fetuses about the development of life. He learned a lot. He was too young to really look at things very long, but he was happy he went and wanted me to take him again!

Momof4_TX July 8, 2008, 12:24 PM

I think it is disgraceful and tasteless. These bodies, whether they consented or not, were human beings. I look at this display with the same disgust as if somebody purchased property that contained a graveyard, opened ALL of the graves, and charged admission for viewing it’s contents. It is grim and morbid, not sculptures of art. These were people that lived….not objects of curiosity. It shows NO RESPECT FOR THE DEAD. When it was in Dallas there was NO WAY I would allow any of my children to see it. (But then…knowing it was real human bodies, they didn’t WANT to.)

And yes…it is a weird display. What kind of a mind would even think to make money off of other people’s death?!?
Seriously, give it some thought…

Immobilier Bretagne March 7, 2011, 1:06 AM

Would you be thinking about exchanging hyperlinks?

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