Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Creepy? See animals, inside-out, at Perot Museum in Dallas
Dallas is the second U.S. city to host the traveling exhibit, which comes from the curators of "Body Worlds."
DALLAS Visitors can get an up-close, under-the-flesh look at preserved animals at a new exhibit at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Sound a little too close? Once you get past the creep factor, "Animal Inside Out" is an intriguing lesson in anatomy and physiology. The collection of mammals, reptiles and birds are part of the Perot's first traveling exhibition.
“We tend to be fascinated by things we cannot see,” said Dr. Angelina Whalley, curator of “Animal Inside Out,” during a preview.
Whalley was creative and conceptual designer for the “Body Worlds” traveling show, which featured human specimens and their body parts in the same unconcealed manner. Her husband, Dr. Gunther von Hagens, invented a method of preservation called “plastination” that was made famous by the exhibit.
For “Animal Inside Out,” Whalley and her team at the Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg, Germany, took on mysterious beasts like the squid and delicate beings like the rabbit to compare their structures not only against one another, but also against humans. Humans appear very different from our nature-grazing counterparts, she said; however, “in general, we are very similar.”
Those who previously visited “Body Worlds” will not be shocked by “Animal Inside Out” — peeling back the skin on another species seems far less creepy. Still, the exhibit provides mouth-gaping moments.
One of these first instances comes in the dissection of an adult camel, whose neck and head have been thrice sliced to reveal the internal bones and organs. Fur remains on the animal’s humps (which can store up to 80 pounds of fat, who knew!) above where the stomach and digestive system are shown in their entireties.
Just a few feet away, a bull stands ready to charge, his muscles bulging and taut; a horse rears next to a separate presentation of its internal organs; and the world’s tallest mammal, a giraffe, towers over visitors, one side stripped to the bone, the other showing an intricate weave of ligaments.
“I want people to leave with a fascination and respect for these wonders of nature,” Whalley said.
“Animal Inside Out” has been in the works since 2010, when Whalley said she finally collected enough specimens. Animals were donated from zoos, universities and veterinarians. None were killed specifically for the project.
"Animal Inside Out" is notably smaller than "Body Worlds," though Whalley said the former was more difficult and labor-intensive to put together. For example, the giraffe alone took more than 10,000 working hours and a healthy amount of experimentation since there are no books detailing its dissection, she said. Some of the animals had been undergoing preservation for 15 years before the exhibit, she added.
When asked about her favorite part of “Animal Inside Out,” Whalley pointed to specimens composed of only their circulatory system and blood vessels. These animals, which include a dog, ostrich and frog, among others, were injected with a chemical called polymer before scientists dissolved the rest of their tissue.
“We would never be able to dissect that,” Whalley said. “It’s almost like a work of art.”
“Animal Inside Out” runs from September 22 to February 17, and Dallas is the second U.S. city to host this exhibit. Admission to the exhibit costs $10-$15 in addition to the price of regular museum entry. Tickets are distributed by specific time slots. Patrons can buy a ticket package, sufficient for entry to the permanent exhibits and “Animal Inside Out,” for $18-$27. (We recommend you buy online ahead of time.)
Perot Museum members can get an exclusive preview of “Animal Inside Out” September 18-21.Follow @tineywristwatch