“Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh’s mission is, in part, to serve as a catalyst for discourse, to be a provocateur of challenging dialogue that stretches us as individuals and as a community. BODIES… The Exhibition will do just that.”
- Joanna E. Haas
PHOTO: TERRY CLARK
California Science Center was hosting Body Worlds, its United States premier. It was Christmas, 2004.
This was a big deal in the science center world, and I wasn’t inclined to miss it, especially since I would be visiting Los Angeles for a gathering with my entire family. One day we loaded three generations of Haases into the car and set off for the science center. This is what they call a busman’s holiday, right? Wrong. It turned into one of the most profound moments of my career. That day would prove to be the most moving visit I have ever made to any exhibit, in any museum setting, anywhere in the world.
I watched my mother, a heart bypass survivor, gain new insights about what she had gone through and engage in deep conversation with my sister, a health educator. My nephew found new ways to interact with his grandfather, a doctor who had been practicing medicine for more than 50 years. I was able to look closely, for really the first time, at the impacts of an all-too-recent knee surgery I had on my own body.
My parents, my adult brother and sister, a pre-teen nephew, a teenage niece, and I spent what amounted to more than three hours traversing the exhibition—circling and re-circling specimens to gain a deeper understanding and greater perspective, and to share stories and thoughts with one another. We were riveted, and most certainly reverent, in the face of such bare humanity. We were overwhelmed with the beauty and complexity of the human body. We were, in our own personal ways, inspired to do better and be better when it came to taking care of ourselves; and perhaps others, too.
Now, it’s our turn. Pittsburgh will host a profound human anatomy exhibition, opening at Carnegie Science Center this October. Men, women, and children of this region will have their chance to intellectually, emotionally, and culturally engage with one another around the intricacies of the human body, the concepts of life and death, the notions of health and wellness, and the inspiration of career opportunities in medicine, biotechnology, and the life sciences inherent in this technology-rich community. I can think of no community better poised to challenge—and in fact support—this difficult, rewarding dialogue. We enjoy high levels of medical expertise in our universities and hospitals, rich art and culture perspectives in our collective Carnegie Museums, leaders committed to education innovations and reform, and a diverse array of neighborhoods and towns. Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh’s mission is, in part, to serve as a catalyst for discourse, to be a provocateur of challenging dialogue that stretches us as individuals and as a community. BODIES…The Exhibition will do just that.
Join us over these next months, no matter your opinion or perspective, in a community conversation centered on the human body, health and the human condition, and all that you (and your children and grandchildren) can do here in changing the world through career pursuits in health and medicine. Your world, and our world, will be a better place for it.
Joanna E. Haas
Henry Buhl, Jr. Director
Carnegie Science Center