Plastinated Bull at the Franklin Institute Body Worlds Animals Inside Out Philadelphia. Image courtesy of Body Worlds
PHILADELPHIA, PA– Presently at the new Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion at The Franklin Institute is Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out, an exhibition that allows a look inside different animals. Since the exhibition opened, it has attracted unprecedented crowed that can only be rivaled by Body Worlds, that hair-raising but utterly fascinating exhibit of “plastinated” human bodies and organs that was presented at the Franklin Institute in October 2005.
Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out is the creation of Body Worlds developer and plastination inventor Dr. Gunther von Hagens. Von Hagens, an anatomist and scientist invented plastination back in 1977. The process involves removing all bodily fluids and fat from a formerly living being and then replacing them with resins and other manufactured substances using a technique Hagens describes as “vacuum-forced impregnation.” These techniques which were used for the creation of the human specimen in the Body Worlds human exhibit have now been applied to the animals.
Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out features a large variety of plastinated mammals and fish, including giraffe, shark, elephants, sheep, goat and bull. The show arrived in the United States in 2013 after travelling through different venues in Europe. It was first shown at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, where it got raving reviews. According to the show producers, “no animal was harmed or killed for this exhibition.” Many of the animals used for the show, the organizers note, came from institutions and zoos.
Designed for visitors of all ages, the show allows an insight into the fascinating world of animal, revealing intricate details of their hidden anatomy and characteristics. Featuring almost 100 plastinated animals and capillary specimens, Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out offers an interesting insight into the inner workings of the animals, bringing a unique perspective on these species.
One of the main attractions of the show is a giant squid frozen in time. The display allows a view of the inner workings of the giant squid and what makes it a formidable underwater creature. There is also the Sheep. Sanding on a wool pedestal, the sheep looks dorsal. From head to hoof, there is a clear display of the internal and muscular structure of the animal. The dorsal nature of the Sheep is an absolute contrast to the Bull, which seems bullish and aggressive. With heads turned to one side, the muscular conformity shows why the bull is a fearsome animal.
Unlike Body Worlds human exhibit that enraged Catholic, Baptist and Jewish leaders for its use of human cadavers, Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out has been well received by almost all who have seen it. The gender controversy that bedeviled Body Worlds human exhibit has not surfaced with Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out. During the Body Worlds human exhibit, the creators of the show were accused of sexism for their representation of the male human bodies as strong and heroic and females as passive and dainty.
While older visitors were fascinated with probing the inside of the wild, exotic, domestic, and some familiar animals, younger visitors were overtaken by curiosity and amazement. It is riveting to watch visitors, especially the young ones, wander surprisingly close between installations of often unencased elephant, camels, giraffe, bulls, reindeer and many others. Eyes wide open with surprise, a child who had just seen the blood vessel structure of a dog remarked “that is so cool.”
There is so much to see and learn from this show. Besides emphasizing the kinship between man and animal, Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out shows the important role animals play on Earth. Each animal is painstakingly preserved to show what informs their nature and mannerisms. Although the display can sometimes be overpowering because of the intricacy of the animals composition, this is a impressive show that is not only educational, but also provides a deeper understanding of animal nature.
Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out, on view through April 12, 2015 at The Franklin Institute, 222 North 20th Street Philadelphia, PA 19103
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