A Guided Tour through Human Anatomy: Hunimed Students at the “Real Bodies” Exhibition

Written by Massimiliano Marinoni, Hunimed Student

What happens when medical school students meet the world-renowned Real Bodies exhibition? That’s what some of the students of Humanitas University set out to discover during the past weeks! Groups of students from different years organized, together with the help of Humanitas University, guided tours of the exhibition in hopes of getting to appreciate their studies from yet another perspective.

human anatomy

As soon as classes were over for the day, we embarked on our journey from Rozzano to Lambrate, where the doctors who would guide us through Real Bodies were waiting. The exhibition is essentially an overview of the human anatomy using 40 real bodies, as the title clearly suggests, and the tours usually last about an hour. Our tour lasted more than twice that! Once the curiosity of medical students gets aroused, it’s really difficult to keep them moving along. The doctors were extremely patient and available as they answered our questions about different bone fractures or what in the world that huge abdominal cyst was…

The tour started out with an overview of the Skeletal system, which makes sense as it is the framework which keeps this beautiful mix of tissues and organs together. We then made our way through all the different systems, from the Cardiovascular to the Nervous one, passing through Respiratory, Digestive, and so on. Although the students, being in medical school, had obviously come prepared, there was always something fascinating and unexpected to discover at every station.
 They teach you in university that the auditory ossicles are the smallest bones in the body, but you could never imagine them being so small! So fragile yet so fundamental, amazing!

Skeletal systemThe ability that the Real Bodies’ team demonstrated in preserving the specimen was probably one the most impressive aspects of the exhibition. Having the different techniques adopted to preserve the bodies explained allowed the students to have an even greater appreciation for what they were witnessing. This appreciation was all the more evident among us when we finally made it to the area dedicated to Sectional Anatomy, where essentially one could study actual cross-sectional cuts of the human body, and not just images like we had been use to. On the contrary, for some of us it was not easy to go through the area dedicated to Human Development and Embryology, with fetuses at different stages of growth, or with different abnormalities, but in the end it allowed to take away an even greater understanding of such a marvelous process.

As the students gathered together at the end of the tour, we all tried to make sense of the wonders we had just seen. The general feeling going around could be summarized this way: “It is one thing to study something, but it is a whole other thing to see it with your own eyes.” It was a very educating experience for us all and we surely had a lot to think about as we faced Milan’s cold winter on the journey back home.  


Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.