Real Bodies, Birmingham NEC - review with pictures

By Rebecca Stanley | Birmingham entertainment | Published:

Get to know your body, inside and out, at the stunning Real Bodies exhibition at Birmingham NEC.

Move. Photo by: Edison Graff

The powerful and thought-provoking display takes visitors on an expedition, exploring the human body through science, culture and emotion.

REAL BODIES - Imagine Exhibitions (Full Promo)

It does this by showcasing more than 200 anatomical specimens and a further 20 perfectly and respectfully preserved human bodies.

Anatomists Study. Photo by: Edison Graff

As I stepped into the first of 10 mind-blowing themed galleries, I was immediately taken aback by the pristine skeleton propped in the centre of the room, surrounded by cabinets of bones.

You might think this would be a ghoulish sight, but the specimens were surrounded by exciting and educational facts that frequently had my jaw hitting the floor in awe.

Ossuary visitors. Photo by: Edison Graff

Cases displaying each intricate vein of the circulatory system, articular models of skeletons hopping and jumping with muscle-bound bodies, and sections of a resin-encased human attracted a considerable amount of attention from the audience - all questioning whether what they were really staring was human.


The information that surrounded each exhibit elevated them from being observed as macabre pieces, to their former lives and the exciting information that they hold being celebrated.

Move. Photo by: Edison Graff

While being an educational exhibition, Real Bodies also explores the spiritual nature of human existence; with each gallery being cleverly named, and inspirational quotes adorning the walls.

Marcus Aurelius' famous 'what a privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love' quote was projected boldly alongside cases of lungs and hearts. Buddha's wise words 'what we think, we become' was emblazoned on a wall above a perfectly-preserved brain, and Bob Dylan's immortal statement 'there's nothing that I wouldn't do to make you feel my love' introduced a gallery focusing on the reproductive system.


Rhythm. Photo by: Edison Graff

The inclusion of our cultural attitudes towards our body and iconic quotes which succinctly describe them added even more depth to this emotive exhibition.

Two galleries even induced tears from some visitors; with one optional gallery including shocking displays of fetal development, and another showing the effects of different diseases on the body.

Move. Photo by: Edison Graff

Though perhaps horrific in nature to some, each specimen within these galleries was displayed tastefully, and perfectly ended the journey each visitor had embarked upon, juxtaposing the wonder of birth and death.

Real Bodies is so much more than just a scientific display: it is a deeply personal, spiritual and factual journey through the wonder and intricacy of human anatomy that forces audiences to reflect upon their individual place in the world - and was an experience that will stay with me for years to come.

Respiratory. Photo by: Edison Graff

If you have the chance to visit this exhibit, do so in a heartbeat.

Real Bodies is at Birmingham's NEC until August 19.

Rebecca Stanley

By Rebecca Stanley

Entertainment journalist for Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Contact me:


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