A Timeless Heart

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BODY WORLDS: A TIMELESS HEART

By Jenna Wilen, Lindsay Hilliard, and Morgan Borkowski
Photo courtesy of the Body Worlds exhibition


The unique mixture of past and present gives the recent Body Worlds exhibition an entirely original element. Reported by J School students.

 

Florence is a modern city that has been able to preserve its abundant history while embracing all the technological advancements that the 21st century has to offer. The entire city emulates this relationship, rendering Florence timeless. The most intriguing display of this collaboration lies within the walls of one of Florence's most historic churches.

The Santo Stefano al Ponte church was constructed in the 12th century with traditional Romanesque elements. Although it has gone through a few renovations over the years, the church still holds itself as one of the oldest in Florence. So you can imagine our surprise regarding its association with Body Worlds, a traveling exhibition of human bodies and parts that recently concluded its run in Florence (Nov 25, 2015 - March 20, 2016).

As we entered the event we were amazed with how the exhibit existed flawlessly within the ancient walls. Everything was orchestrated thoughtfully, from the positions the bodies took, to the detail of veins in an arm. The ability to present this revolutionary view of the human body is possible because of the German anatomist Gunther Von Hagens.  With the use of a new technique called plastination, Hagens was able to unlock uncharted areas that combine beauty and science.  To find out more about Hagens and his invention readers can visit the International Society for Plastination's website.

The title of this exhibit is “Al Cuore della Vita,” meaning, “The Heart of Life.” Looking closely at the displays of human hearts, lungs and muscles, we found ourselves humbled by the human anatomy – by our own anatomy.  Some 15,000 individuals chose to donate their bodies for the expansion of knowledge and art. Hagens is breaking grounds within a structure that has been standing strong for almost a thousand years.

The ability to demonstrate how our own bodies function in such detail is something that 12th century Florentines could have never predicted. The choice to hold a Body Worlds event within Santo Stefano al Ponte creates a bridge between the centuries.  Florence’s ability to unite, adapt, and progress, while staying true to itself, is a quality unlike any other.  While the heart of life might be literal for Hagens, the heart of life for Florence exists within its roots and potential.


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