The successful traveling exhibition, Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out debuts in Vancouver today.
The Body Worlds Vancouver exhibition use a process called plastination to reveal the biology of approximately 50 animals, including cows, giraffes, goats and ostriches. The process, which was invented by Body Worlds creator, anatomist Dr. Gunther Von Hagens, replaces water and fat with plastics. The animals are donated by veterinary programs and zoos.
Vancouver is a little late to get Animals Inside Out; the show has already packed people into museums and science centres in places like Ottawa, Dallas, and Dublin, Ireland. The exhibition had its North American debut at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago on March 14, 2013.
The exhibit opened to good reviews and has proved popular, if not quite as shocking as the original, human version.
“An eye-popping spectacle from start to finish, “Animal Inside Out” is a sort of alternate-universe zoo, one that lets you get surprisingly close to the often unencased critters,” said the Chicago Tribune. “As guests wander between them, reindeer, sharks and a sheep, to name three, mill about, shamelessly showing visitors what they’re really like. You know, on the inside.”
The show’s curator, Dr. Angelina Whalley, says the sheer variety of animals is what impresses most visitors.
“It is fascinating to see the anatomical similarities of the vertebrates on the one hand, and how many different anatomical variations have formed on the other hand in response to an animal’s living conditions—such as the elephant’s trunk or the giraffe’s long neck,” she said.
Von Hagens developed the Body Worlds public exhibitions in the 1990’s and thousands of people since have agreed to donate their bodies to it. After the first exhibit, in 1995 in Tokyo, the show expanded to more than 50 museums and venues in North America, Asia, and Europe.
A hemophiliac as a child, the now 70 year-old Von Hagens spent six months in hospital after being injured, sparking a keen interest in medical science. The Body Worlds exhibits became a cultural phenomenon, and was even featured in the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale, in which he made a cameo appearance. Body Worlds made Von Hagens and his Institute of Plastination more than £50-million, but the franchise has trickled off, revenue wise, in recent years.
As with the human version of Body Worlds, Von Hagens’ institute says its cause is education.
“The purpose of ANIMAL INSIDE OUT is to inspire a deeper appreciation and respect for the animal world,” says the company’s literature. “The exhibition will allow visitors the unique opportunity to explore the intricate biology and physiology of some of the world’s most spectacular creatures, using the amazing science of Plastination. A visit to ANIMAL INSIDE OUT will go beyond what is seen in zoos, aquariums and animal parks. Visitors will be better able to understand the inner workings of animals and compare them to human anatomy, resulting in a new understanding of the amazing beauty of both animals and humans.
Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out runs from October 3, 2015 to March 28, 2016 at The Telus World of Science. Tickets range from $19.25 to $29.50.