A Discovery Place must-see: Body Worlds & the Cycle of Life

Cycle of Life at Discovery Place
Cycle of Life at Discovery Place Sara Kendall

The world’s most visited exhibition, Body Worlds is back at Discovery Place with an incredible new presentation: Body Worlds & the Cycle of Life. The original Body Worlds made its Discovery Place debut in 2007, shattering attendance records. Over 40 million people in more than 90 cities in America, Europe, Asia, and Africa have seen it.

The latest exhibition, Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life reveals the secrets of human growth and transformation, following the development of a fetus, through 40-week development and various stages of adulthood. The exhibit highlights athleticism by using various action poses that include: hockey and baseball players, acrobats, and more. An intimate, close-up approach is used with a series of brain slices, where the countless arteries that deliver the blood supply to the brain are shown.

Body World's Cycle of Life at Discovery Place
Body World’s Cycle of Life at Discovery Place Sara Kendall

There is also the approach of showing visitors what they shouldn’t do to their bodies. One display shows a set of lungs, blackened by the effects of heavy smoking. This provides graphic evidence of how this damaging habit can be to the body.

Wondering if the people are real? Yes, they are! On display are over 100 real human specimens stripped of skin, but with organs and muscles still in tact. In 1977, German anatomist, Gunther von Hagens invented the process he calls plastination, which preserves the body with reactive plastics that are initially pliable, and then harden after curing.

Dr. von Hagens has established a body donation program that relies on consenting donors for the specimens. These benevolent individuals have specified in their will that their body can be used for educational purposes in the exhibition. The donors include more than 1,200 from the United States, 25 from North Carolina, and six from Charlotte.

Body World & Cycle of Life at Discovery Place
Body World & Cycle of Life at Discovery Place Sara Kendall

This up close view of the human body is nothing less than amazing, but knowing they were once living, breathing people can be unnerving for some, especially for children. My ten-year-old daughter and her friend were very curious, but still hurried a bit through the exhibition. The stages of a growing fetus and the blackened smoker’s lungs left the greatest impression on them.

While the visual impact is significant, there is much to be learned from the descriptions. A younger visitor’s patience may be tested by it, but do take the time to read about each display, it will be well worth your time. If you’re planning to take your children, I recommend this for older elementary-aged kids and up.

Ticket Information

From November 21, 2015 through May 1, 2016, Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life will be on exhibit. When making a purchase, you will select the date and time of your visit. By doing this, it will ensure visitors are spaced out evenly, so everyone can enjoy the exhibit without doing so in a heavy crowd. Admission to Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life is $24 for adults (14-59), $20 for children (2-13), $22 for seniors (60+) and students with ID. All tickets include full-day admission to Discovery Place.

For more info, go to