I heard the The Franklin Institute in Philly had a giant heart on exhibit.
As a fan of giant hearts, I had to see it.
If I had a giant cabinet in which to store giant hearts specimens, my collection would with a Volkswagen bug-sized blue whale’s heart.
For context, I would also collect and display the museum ad for the whale’s heart:
And then I’d renovate the cabinet to make room for the Franklin’s giant heart.
I have to confess I was expecting a modest, whale-sized heart. The models of blue whale’s hearts are in high demand and touring the world. They are hollow, so kids can climb in and out through the ventricles and arteries. However, the Franklin’s giant heart was an ambitious model that would belong to a 220-ft giant, someone the size of the statue of liberty.
Statue of liberty’s heart is large enough for adults to climb inside. The mini-tour inside the heart includes micro staircases, claustrophobic spaces, and “you are here”-type maps. The maps convey the analogous heart location you are stepping into (e.g., ventricles, valves, arteries).
I visited the museum with my sister, an MD and blog contributor on the case of debunking House episodes. “We are approaching the lungs!”, she would shout, apparently narrating the tour. I got a little lost in the abstraction – it was hard to tell which valve was doing what and what kind of blood I was (oxygenated?). A whale’s heart might be large enough to make all structures visible and memorable, but not too large as to make you loose the big picture idea.
Dr. Russo (the other Dr. in the family) disagreed. She though it helps giving children an idea of what blood circulation is. I could have interviewed the young participants and ask, but unfortunately they were too scared to get in.
Near the giant heart were some averaged-sized ones, in a scale of comparison with other animals.
Most hearts were mammal’s (mouse, cow, polar bear, elephant, and at the top, beaked whale), along with two bird hearts (ostrich and finch).
Dr. Silvana Russo also tested the Franklin’s interactive exhibit on circulation.
She is the expert and knows how blood drops flow.
Meanwhile, I continue to work on my imaginary collection of anatomically-correct hearts. Valentine’s day seems perfect for that.