Animal Inside Out at the Natural History Museum
We explore the brand new exhibition, brought to you by Gunther Von Hagens and the Bodyworlds team.
Animal Inside Out, the brand new exhibition at the Natural History Museum, provides a unique chance to explore the intricate biology and physiology of some of the world’s most spectacular creatures. Put together by the team behind Gunther von Hagens’ famous BODY WORLDS shows. It goes more than skin deep, stripping away nature’s flesh to her bare bones.
The exhibition brings together nearly 100 plastinate and capillary specimens to guide visitors on a safari journey through nature’s anatomy. From goats to giraffes and octopuses to ostriches, visitors will see the body make up of some of the world's most impressive animals.
Highlights of the Animal Inside Out exhibition include standing face to face with an adult gorilla, peering up at an entire Asian elephant and witnessing a shark outlined entirely in its dense network of blood vessels. Understanding anatomy is crucial to discovering more about the evolution of animals and the natural world.
Scientists at the Natural History Museum often use physiology and anatomy as a tool in their research. Georgina Bishop, exhibition developer at the Natural History Museum, says ‘Usually you see our specimens as skeletons, stuffed animals or preserved in alcohol. At Animal Inside Out, visitors will see animals close up in a whole new way and in the most amazing detail as they get under the skin of some of nature’s most incredible creatures.’
Dr Angelina Whalley, explains the finer detail of the exhibition in this video interview.
In case you were wondering where to start in plastinating an animal, then below is an outline of the processes used by the Institute of Plastination. Don't try this at home!
Five Steps of Plastination
- Embalming and dissection First the animal has formalin pumped into its body to stop the natural process of decay and to kill any bacteria. Then it is decided what particular structure the animal is going to show and skin,fatty and connective tissues are removed as required.
- Removal of body fat and water
The animal specimen is placed into an acetone bath. Acetone is a solvent that replaces the water and fatty tissues that remain in the body.
- Forced impregnation
After this, the specimen is immersed in a liquid polymer and placed in a vacuum chamber. The vacuum sucks the acetone out of the animal’s tissues as it evaporates and the resulting vacuum in the specimen forces the polymer solution to enter in its place. This process of removing the acetone and forcing in the polymer solution continues until all of the animal’s tissues have been totally saturated. Different materials are sometimes used such as silicone depending on the animal and how the team want the animal to look. The polymers must react under specific conditions to harden the specimen, resist yellowing and be compatible with the animal’s body tissue.
While the specimen is still malleable it is placed into its final position for display and then held in place until it sets using wires, clamps and needles.
Finally the specimen is hardened using gas, light or heat depending on the material used. This ensures the specimen lasts for a long time and can be used in exhibitions and education.
For more information visit the Natural History Museum Website
Dates and times:
Opens 6 April 2012, 10.00–17.50 (last admission 17.15) Closes 16 September 2012
020 7942 5000 Admission:
Adult £9*, child and concessions £6*, family £27* Adult £8.10, child and concessions £5.40, family £24.30
Free for Members, Patrons and children under four