Dare to look inside

Carolina residents now will have a new way of viewing the human body -- from the inside out.

Gunther von Hagens' "Body Worlds: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies" opens Wednesday in Charlotte at Discovery Place.

The exhibit, sponsored by Carolinas Medical Center, includes more than 200 authentic organs from human donors that will show the locomotive, nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive and reproductive systems. It will be open Wednesday through Oct. 28.

The Body Worlds exhibition is the world's first public anatomical presentation using plastination. Viewers of the plastination technique will be able to see authentic body organs, such as a normal heart versus an enlarged heart or a healthy lung versus a smoker's lung.

"Our goal is to bring to the people experiences about the world and how it works," John Mackay, president and CEO of Discovery Place. "This is truly a once in a lifetime experience."

Sullivan Middle School social studies teacher Gail Stafford, who saw the exhibit on a trip to Canada, agrees.

"It was phenomenal. It gave you an insight into the body that doctors might get, but we as lay people don't," she says. "It does exhibit the complexity of your body."

The exhibits are from people who willed upon their death that their bodies could be used for educational purposes. Visitors will not be permitted to touch the bodies, except for select areas of the museum.

Stafford says she was particularly impressed with the display of lung from a coal miner and a lung cancer patient. "It made you realize the impact these two situations had on the body."

Physicians with CMC will be available every weekend to answer questions from visitors about the human body and health care.

"We want people to ask us questions," Dr. James McDeavitt, senior vice president for medical education at CMC said in a written statement. "The more you know about your body, the better you can help manage your health."

This is the exhibition's first appearance in the Carolinas and in the Southeastern United States. The event has attracted more than 20 million visitors in 35 cities worldwide.

Kate Conley, communications manager for "Body Worlds," says picking Charlotte as a destination was an easy choice. She cited the town's strong arts and culture scene as the deciding factor.

"Charlotte is a thriving city," Conley says. "Given North Carolina's premier position in education and health care, it was a no brainer for us."

What: Body Worlds: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies.

Where: Discovery Place in uptown Charlotte, 301 N. Tryon St., Charlotte.

When: Wednesday through Oct. 28.

Cost: $22 for adults, $18 for students with ID and seniors 60+; $16 for children ages 6 to 13; and $8 for children ages 5 and younger.

Hours: Tickets are available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.

Information: Call Discovery Place, (704) 372-6261.