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Every so often we write about temporary, traveling cultural exhibits that make their way to Minnesota and are worth the drive (100 miles?).

This is one of them.

Our bodies are wonderful, remarkable, and complex—but much less mysterious after visiting The Science Museum's "BodyWorlds & The Cycle of Life" exhibit.

Yes, it's that BODY WORLDS that traveled here in 2006 and made quite the splash, showcasing anatomist Dr. von Hagens' astounding process of plastination—but there are some additions and adjustments this time around.

centenarianThere are new bodies, new illnesses documented, but more importantly, there's more humanity: a welcoming hallway shows screens rotating real-life photos; a wall of centenarians near the finish (one of my personal favorite sections of the exhibit) explains why particular cultures are more likely to live longer (think diet restrictions and/or special activity); plus, inspiring quotes are published throughout, like Richard Nixon's goodbye letter, sharing his health issues to increase awareness.

There's also a definite theme of aging and overall responsibility for one's health (try not to let it get you down!). Certain stages and changes are to be expected, but we can all take action and make daily choices to support good health and recognize when something is going wrong. With such a close view of some of these, it's hard not to be amazed, but also resigned to inevitable issues.

The exhibit just picked up in January, and runs until May 5, 2013. Advance tickets are highly recommended (and valid for a specific day and time only), because controlling numbers who walk through the exhibit is key. Our group spent a couple hours, reading lots, and walking slowly.

Note: This is not necessarily suited for the young or squeamish (though I found, personally, that curiousity conquered uncomfortableness). Right away you can see the amazing stages of fetus development (or skip that room if preferred), and then continue on to see individual organs, nervous systems, plus many full bodies in various poses, young and old, active or ill.

Purchase tickets online ($3/person service fee for non-members; $1 for members), via phone at 651-221-9444, or in person at the box office.

Photos by Anna Wedekind

BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life + Museum Admission: Adult members $14 ($8 in Feb.), non-members $27; Child (4-12) & Senior (60+) members $9 ($6 in Feb.), non-members $19.
BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life + Museum Admission + Omnitheater film: Adult members $14 ($8 in Feb.), non-members $34; Child (4-12) & Senior (60+) members $9 ($6 in Feb.), non-members $26.

Science Museum of Minnesota
120 Kellogg Blvd W., St. Paul
651-221-9444, smm.org

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