MSI animals exhibit launched

Staff Writer

Squids use jet propulsion to move at high speeds. Sheep can only move their tails horizontally, but goats have an extra bone that allows them to move their tails vertically. Ninety-seven percent of the animals in the world are invertebrates.

Those are all facts visitors learn before even getting to the meat of the Museum of Science and Industry’s most recent exhibit, “Animals Inside Out.”

“Animals Inside Out” is making its United States premiere at MSI starting March 14 and running until September 2. It features dozens of plastinated animals, preserved to put their muscles, ligaments, organs and capillaries on display.

“Animals Inside Out” is a Body Worlds exhibit, from the same institute that created the preserved and displayed human bodies through the same process.

Between dogs, carp, rats and cats, “Animals Inside Out” offers visitors a look at animals they may see in Hyde Park, and an up close look at a giraffe’s muscles or an ostrich’s blood vessels.

“We have for instance on display a wonderful exhibit that shows just the arterial system of a dog, and it looks so beautiful, it’s in a very lifelike pose, you know. … It’s so beautiful. It’s really fantastic to look at,” said Angela Whalley, curator.

The exhibit has toured in Europe since 2010. Whalley said it offers visitors a view of the animal kingdom that should bring it closer to reality. Based on her experience with Body Worlds’ traveling exhibit displaying the human body, she is confident visitors will be glad they came.

“There were so many people who really were very hesitant to come at all, they thought the idea to put skin stripped off specimens on display that must be awful and frightening,” Whalley said. “But they all said, ‘It is so different from what I had in mind what it is, it’s so beautiful, its so interesting I’m really glad I had this opportunity.’ I’m certain this will be the same with this animal exhibition.”

Ilea Pearce and Brittney Flaningan, both of Rockford, spent time fascinated by a human arm and shoulder, the skin removed to show the muscles and collar bone.

Flaningan was hesitant to come to the exhibit because she was concerned that it might be too graphic for her.

“I was just super nervous,” said Flaningan. “But the science behind it is just astonishing.” She had previously stayed away from the Body Worlds exhibit because she didn’t think she could handle viewing it.

Pearce is studying to be a nurse and said she encouraged Flaningan to come see the exhibit.

The animals on display were collected over the years by the Institute for Plastination, which created the exhibit. None of them were killed for the exhibit, Whalley said. Zoos, private collectors, universities and veterinarians often donated the animals.

“My hope is that it really will stir awareness, let people appreciate life in general, but also to create respect because in a world where we humans tend to exploit nature to our advantage — sometimes selfishly and thoughtlessly,” Whalley said. “I think its necessary to provide people with this knowledge because we can only respect and love what we know, and I really do hope that, by providing this opportunity to see the beauty of this animal world, that will make people feel more inclined to conserve these wonderful creatures and their environment.”