A Voyage Through The Human Body

A visitor observes the teeth in a large scale model of the human mouth, as he stands on a rubber tongue complete with taste buds and tonsils hung in the foreground at the Corpus museum in Oegstgeest, Netherlands, March 14, 2008. All the walls and halls in the museum are modeled with fiberglass to resemble the inside of a giant human body, giving visitors the sensation of being shrunk down to a tiny scale. (Photo: AP Photo/Fred Ernst) AP Photo/Fred Ernst

Strap on 3-D glasses and watch holograms of cartoon sperm sprinting to fertilize an egg. Climb inside a gigantic nose, enjoy the smell of fresh hay, then feel the wind blast on your neck when it sneezes. Walk across a bouncy rubber tongue complete with taste buds and realistic burping noises in the background.

This all might sound weird or flat-out gross. But the makers of "Corpus," a new attraction in the Netherlands, are hoping that a combination amusement park and health education museum will encourage kids to take better care of their own bodies.

Even before Corpus officially opened March 20 in Oegstgeest, 21 miles southeast of Amsterdam, it was already a local landmark. The building incorporates a 115-foot high seated human figure into its structure. But the roughhewn Corpus exterior isn't much to look at: all the detail is on the inside.

All the walls and halls are modeled with fiberglass to resemble the inside of a giant human body, giving visitors the sensation of being shrunk down to a tiny scale, like the characters of the classic science fiction film "Fantastic Voyage."

Visitors begin their tour via an escalator that carries them through a wound in the giant figure's calf. Once inside, they see an exhibition on what happens when a wood splinter pierces the skin.

Then it's on to the sit-down "Uterus Theater." That's the one with the cartoon sperm race.

"We chose not to show sexual activity, but actually just the fertilization of the egg cell by the seed cell and how that develops" into a fetus, said Dr. Tom Voute, one of a raft of physicians hired as advisers on the project.

He said the information in Corpus is medically accurate, if not always highly sophisticated.

"I think that it gives information that will give people the itch to learn more," he said.

When the show is over, the entire theater platform is lifted to the next floor with hydraulic pumps.

Next is a display on digestion, featuring blocks of cheese, the Dutch national treat. After visitors watch a video showing stomach acid dissolving them, the curds' progress through a hallway-size intestinal system is charted with lights and narration.

While the cheese is heading downward, visitors progress up to exhibits on the heart, lungs, mouth, nose and ear.

Visitors reach the summit in — where else? — the brain, where they take seats around a cluster of display panels built atop model neurons, which then project images onto a larger screen at the top of the domed space, to give an impression of how consciousness might work.

The project is the dream of businessman Henri Remmers, who arranged $31 million in private funding and won the endorsement of the Dutch Health Ministry. The cost of entry is $25.50 for adults, $21 for children under 14. Children younger than 8 are not permitted.

On the way back down, there are more displays on health and diet and games — for instance one where players attempt to knock out bacteria on a big screen display by tossing bean bags at them.

Other machines let visitors monitor their hearts while they exercise, or measure blood pressure, heart rate and body mass index.

Remmers said he hoped when people learn more about the "unique mechanism" that the human body is, "then you'll have more respect for your own body, and possibly treat it a little more carefully."
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