Bonus for Funky Heart! readers: Here’s a post from Amy over at Prairie Street Retreat, my Birthday Buddy! We share the same birthday and the same defect, Tricuspid Atresia! But I’m only 27 in my head; all the paperwork says I’m 43. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMY!
The Giant Heart at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry is no more.
The 14 foot tall plaster heart (Dr. Wes has a photo of the heart on his blog) was built in 1954, cleverly constructed around a building support for strength. It was designed as a walk through exhibit, you could actually see the inner workings of the heart by imitating blood and tracing the correct path through the heart.
But now, the old plaster heart is gone. Removed. Museum employees and exhibit designers performed the worst kind of heart surgery imaginable – too big too move and possibly too fragile to disassemble and store, workers broke the heart into pieces!
But all is not lost. It is being replaced by a new heart, a modern, high tech model. This heart is actually a virtual 3D model of a heart, projected images flashed onto a steel frame backdrop. Although you can’t walk through this model, the virtual reality features animate the heart: it usually chugs along at a comfortable 60 beats a minute. But when you grab a pair of handgrips, the electronic brains behind the display detects your pulse and matches your heart rate! (Now that’s cool! I’d like to see what happens when a Heart Warrior with a funky heartbeat gives it a try!) The Virtual Heart also allows you to see the heart’s electrical system at work, the opening and closing of the valves, and the blood vessels located on the heart itself!
The traditionalist in me is still enthralled by the only large walk-through heart exhibit that I know of: The Giant Heart, located at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. But I’m also putting Chicago’s new 3D heart on my personal list of Places to Visit!