National Geographic window display on Madrid’s Gran Via

A SHOP window on the Gran Via, one of Madrid’s busiest shopping streets, is currently displaying something gruesome.

Passersby who spot the three-centimetre thick, lengthways cross-section of a human body usually do a double-take when they realise that what they are looking at was once alive.

It is part of the National Geographic store’s window display and will be there until September 7, announcing the Human Bodies exhibition in the Casa de Campo. Those venturing inside can obtain a 20 per cent discount on tickets for the exhibition which includes a 90-minute guided tour.

Twelve human bodies and 120 individual organs preserved through a process known as plastination, will be on view until October 30, although the exhibition does not set out to horrify or cater to the macabre.

Instead, visitors see firsthand the human body’s bone structure and musculature, as well as its respiratory, circulatory, digestive, reproductive and urinary systems. Few noticed the Gran Via display when it was first installed although those who stopped to look were dumbfounded.

“It’s so perfect it looks like an imitation,” said one woman.  “It would seem more real if the muscles were a bit pinker because that yellowish colour makes it looks like plastic or pickled meat,” complained another.

Medical student Aurora was more easily pleased. “I think it’s marvellous because hardly anyone knows what the inside of a human body looks like,” she said, recommending that everyone went to the Casa de Campo to see the preserved bodies.

“It’s a good way to bring science closer to people.”

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