The muscular system of a large bull is shown in detail as he engages in a playful game of tug of war with an invisible rival; the clearly defined circulatory system of a dog seems ready to chase a ball, while a camel’s head and neck is captured in three different poses as he bends to the ground. These and roughly 100 other Plastinated and capillary animal specimens are currently on display at the ANIMAL INSIDE OUT, a BODY WORLDS Production in the lower level of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science through Feb. 17, 2014. On a limited tour in U.S., the ANIMAL INSIDE OUT exhibition is Perot Museum’s first traveling exhibition.
None of the animals in the exhibit were killed or harmed in any way for the sake of the exhibit. They came from various zoos, veterinary programs and animal groups. There are a few human bodies included in the exhibit, which originated from the Institute for Plastination’s body donation program. The humans provide visitors with the opportunity to compare humans with the other animals included in the exhibit.
“Today is just the beginning of what we hope are hundreds of thousands of people coming through this exhibition, having not only an awe-inspiring moment but hopefully a life changing moment,” said Nicole Small, Eugene McDermott CEO of the Perot Museum.
“Humans tend to be fascinated most by things we’ve never seen,” said Dr. Angelina Whalley, curator and creative/conceptual designer for BODY WORLDS. “This is one major reason why Body Worlds has been so widely successful with almost 40 million visitors worldwide. To see firsthand what we are made of, how our organs fit into the body and what they look like inspired so many people and even changed their lives. It should definitely change their view on themselves.
“The (previous) exhibition was of human specimens, we were only able to include a very few animals. We recognized how much visitors appreciated having the opportunity to compare how similar we are underneath our skin. So we continued plastinating…animal specimens in our labs. But it was not until 2010 that we had a collection of animals that would allow us to set up an exhibition focusing more or less exclusively on animals.
“Our goal was to create an exhibition that fascinates people, teaches them the beauty of nature and raises awareness, appreciation and respect. We humans tend to be pretty selfish, and all too often we thoughtlessly exploit the world around us. I strongly believe if we don’t provide people with proper knowledge of beauty and the nature of these animals’ characteristics, we cannot expect them to treat animals with respect and appreciation.”
The Plastination process permanently preserves animal tissues. The first step involves embalming and dissection. Then water and soluble fats are removed and replaced with a substance such as acetone. The acetone is then replaced with a polymer like silicone rubber. The result is a dry, odorless and posable body, which can be set into any lifelike position. Once posed, the specimen is cured or hardened. The process takes about 1,500 hours or roughly a year to complete.
“I think there are a lot of things we are trying to communicate with Body Worlds’ Animal Inside Out; part of it certainly is – look at the extraordinary diversity and beauty of life, and how incredibly diverse it is. But then also starting to understand maybe a little bit more about ourselves, still understanding the human side of things,” Steve Hinkley Vice President of Programs said. “Of course, there are some human based specimens throughout (the exhibit). It is understanding that evolutionary connection; that very, very deep connection to these organisms that are surrounding us. This exhibit presents that in a fantastic and phenomenal way. It’s not every day that I get to stand right next to a several hundred (pound) bull that has been plastinated and positioned just so that I can see every single part of its structure. It’s really extraordinary.”
Nicole Small is also the mother of two young children, 5 and 8 years old, who are looking forward to seeing the exhibit.
“I think it’s up to each parent to decide what is appropriate for their child,” Small said. “This exhibit is about understanding the body and understanding animals. Kids are fascinated with animals. Each parent knows their child. I can just tell you from personal experience that my children are chomping at the bit to get here, because they are dying to see these animals. Each parent should make that decision for their own children.
“I think how the parent talks to the children about what they are seeing is also a really important piece of this. Parents as role models in learning are critical. So for parents to walk through and talk about the muscles and the skin, and helping the kids understand that those legs are levers is important. And that there is a difference between the bull’s knee and my knee is really fascinating. A lot of it is about how parents want to talk to and educate their kids.
“Everything we do in science is about discovery, learning and it’s about a journey. So I think determining how you take in information and what you choose to do with it is part of the process.”
Ticket and General Information
Tickets to ANIMAL INSIDE OUT are timed entry and must accompany a timed-entry general exhibit hall ticket.
Non-members can purchase best value, bundled, timed-entry ANIMAL INSIDE OUT/ Perot Museum general exhibits tickets for $27 for adults (18-64), $18 for children (2-11; under 2 are free), and $22 for youth (12-17) and seniors (65+).
Museum members receive free general exhibit hall admission and discounted admission for ANIMAL INSIDE OUT at $15 for adults, $11 for children and $13 for youth and seniors.
MUSEUM GENERAL ADMISSION TICKET PRICES (which alone DO NOT include admission to ANIMAL INSIDE OUT) are $15 for adults (18-64), $12 for youth (12-17) and seniors (65+), and $10 for children (2-11).
HOURS. Regular museum hours for general admission and the traveling exhibitions are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays from Noon-5 p.m. Please check perotmuseum.org for special holidays, extended hours and unexpected closings.