Bodies The Exhibition Part 1

On Wednesday this week, I finally made it to the Bodies Exhibition in Dublin. It had taken me six months to manage to get to the exhibition, having had to decide whether to go alone or find someone to go with me.  Human anatomy has been of great interest to me since I was very young, so naturally as soon as I heard about the exhibition coming to Dublin, I had to go!  Eventually I decided to go alone. I very much enjoyed being by myself, in my own little world. I turned my phone off, shut off from everything and spent an hour and a half exploring one of my biggest passions. Please note that the pictures featured in this post do not do the specimens much justice.

At first I felt a little odd attending the exhibition in the Ambassador Theatre, a place where I had been to a few gigs as a teenager. Luckily the smell of sweat and spilled beer was absent! I walked down the small corridor anxiously, not knowing what to expect. Would there be many people here? What types of people would visit? Would there be a smell? I can’t say I noticed too much about the room; I know it was black and lime green, in places, with suitable lighting.

Section One focused on the bones and muscles of the body, essentially teaching the audience about the general structures and what they do. I began by looking at a section of the femur, something I am very interested in due to a disorder which affects me, as described in previous posts. I then moved to view the Pelvis. It really amazed me how small the pelvis really is and how wide the pelvis and pubic symphysis must move to accommodate for the expansion of the uterus during pregnancy. This was a rather small pelvis and I would have loved to have seen the difference in size between a normal pelvis and one nine months into a pregnancy.

After the queues died down a little, I viewed the Spine. It was presented as a full spine but with separate displays for the different types of shapes of vertebrae. For those who are not aware, the vertebrae of the spine are known as different regions (Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, Sacral and Coccygeal)  and are shaped differently to allow for articulation of the surrounding and internal structures. The spine is a fascinating structure. I have worked with some plastic models of the spine but, as with the full skeleton model present at the exhibition, the bones appeared much more rough and sharp, a lot more delicate than our plastic friend who hangs out in the corner of the biology lab in school. When beginning my studies, I was most interested in the spine, aspiring to become an expert in relief and treatment of back injury and pain, although in recent times, my interest has diminished and I have found myself becoming more interested in the structure I viewed next.

I’m not sure how long I spent looking at the section of the leg and foot, probably at least twenty minutes. Whilst the spine is fascinating, the foot is a much more complex structure, made up mainly of 3 different joints (Talocrural , Subtalar , Inferior Tibiofibular) . In college I found it incredibly hard to learn the names of all the different joints of the foot, the different ligaments, tendons and bones. I tested myself by trying to name the muscles of the leg and foot without looking at the labels – I did quite well! I loved how the skin of the foot had been pulled back to reveal all of the tendons, muscles and bones of the foot; most importantly they showed the structure of the sole of the foot.  Being a gymnast and having had many problems with my feet, I was simply amazed to be able to see the underlying structures and to see where it is exactly that I have problems with my feet and what my tendons actually look like. Drawings in text books can only show you so much but to be able to see the structures and how the muscle fibres lie was superb. Beside this there was also a section of the arm, presented in the same way.

In this section, there were three full bodies. These were in different positions to show the way the body moves and how muscles look when we take particular poses. There was an orchestra conductor, a running athlete and a person hunched over sitting. The Conductor pose showed some of the internal organs underneath the muscles and rib cage. Whilst seeing the persons eyes was a bit odd at first (expecting them to jump and go “boo”at any minute), it was great to see the brachial plexus , something I had found difficult to grasp during college. I then discovered that I could walk right around the model and see where a section of the erector spinae muscles and other back muscles , I could view the body from all angles, which was brilliant.

The model in the running pose was something else entirely. At this point the information plaques told the audience about muscles having a point of origin and a point of insertion. For example, your thigh muscles originate in up towards the hip and travel down to attach to the knee. It was fascinating to see how the muscles are as you run. It definitely made it easier for me to see how running can cause injuries due to the position of the muscles during movement.

The third was the person sitting hunched over, as if sitting at a desk but with arms on their knees. This was great, I wish I could show every client of mine who complains of back, neck and shoulder pain from sitting at their desk this specimen. It so clearly shows the range of flexion that the spine is put into in a hunched position and also the forward head posture. As the adipose tissue and skin was pulled back, you could see how the muscles of the shoulders and upper back are elongated to accommodate for the flexion in the spine.  This would be a valuable learning tool for those who suffer with postural problems.

Part two will follow shortly


  1. Peter says:

    Great post, looking forward to part 2!

  2. Admin says:

    Thanks Peter, it’s coming soon! Make sure to subscribe to my blog so that you get it straight away! 🙂

  3. Char says:

    We saw this exhibit (or one very similar) last summer. My gymnast daughter and I found it very fascinating while the rest of the family was so grossed out they left and went back to the main part of the museum.

  4. Admin says:

    Hi Char,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m glad other people were fascinated with the exhibition!

    From looking at images on google, there seems to be variations in the models and specimens on display. There’s another exhibition in London which I will talk about in the concluding post that I am dying to see!

    Thanks for reading! 🙂

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