Amyleigh. Winchester, England.
An archaeologist & RE specialist with an abundance of love for makeup, nature & architecture photography, comics, taxidermy & a good cuppa.
Gunther von Hagens' Animals Inside Out
Hello wonderful people! Earlier this week, I took myself out for a few hours on a solo date to go grab a hot beverage and to have a wander around Newcastle for something to do and a bit of self-care. I took myself along to the Life Science Centre because there was an exhibition on that I had been desperate to see since summer: Gunther von Hagens' Animals Inside Out. For those who may not know, Gunther von Hagens' is a German anatomist who has become universally famous after doing various anatomy/biology-based tv shows in front of live audiences. His latest breakthrough in field is being able to preserve tissue samples and specimens in a process he calls 'plastination'. Plastination is a method used to basically cast models of muscles, capillaries, and just general internal tissue of the human and animal bodies and is honestly extremely fascinating and has no doubt had a huge effect on the scientific world.
Last year I went to Life Science Centre to see the hugely successful Gunther von Hagens' Bodyworlds exhibition. This exhibition showcased donated human specimens which had gone through the process of plastination and was very insightful and educational. So you can imagine my reaction when I heard his next instalment - involving animals this time - was coming to the centre. I was supposed to go in August but was ill at the time so I jumped at the chance to have a wander around the exhibition on a chilly December afternoon. The exhibition was exactly the same as Bodyworlds but with animal specimens instead of humans. At first, I thought it was just going to be a bit mediocre as there were a lot of small animals such as fish and baby chicks on display but boy oh boy, was it worth the £11 ticket. I tried to get pictures of absolutely everything but I'll be honest - the pictures don't do the exhibition justice, the lighting was too bright in some cases so pictures aren't that clear, and I was so intrigued to really check out the specimens that I didn't spend long fiddling around with my camera to get shots just right. However, I did get some photos to show you why this exhibition is truly worth your time and money so let's take a look: (if you are remotely squeamish and don't like anatomy, please don't continue reading. The specimens are plastic copies however I understand that the sight of internal organs and blood vessels/arteries etc. may not sit well with some people!)
For me, the exhibition was laid out fantastically well and was tantalising for the majority of the senses. Lots of the larger animals which were on display (such as the ostrich, shark, and bear for example) had Nat Geo documentaries playing on huge screens behind their cabinets so if you had children with you for example, they would find it easier to relate each skeleton/muscle specimen to which animal it belongs to. They had wonderful calming music playing as you walked around too which just created a lovely yet surreal atmosphere that almost got to me emotionally (could have been because it was almost that time of the month but I like to think it was the ambience of the place). Hearing all the animal noises really added to the vibe and finish of the exhibition and each cabinet and display had brilliant informative plaques detailing information not only about the animals' muscles and how they move etc. but even just information on their diets, what sort of personality they generally have, and more. As I said earlier, they had some of the smaller species towards the entrance and obviously had the "grand finale" at the end of the walk, but there was a great range of the types of animals and how they were displayed on show. Skeletons, taxidermy, even thin cross-section slices framed on the walls... There was so much to look at and take in.
Seeing some of the larger animals that I've only ever seen alive in a zoo if at all was so surreal. To see just how big they are in comparison to humans really puts into perspective how amazing our planet is and how we should all consciously make an effort to look after our planet for the sake of these other majestic species. There were some brilliant installations that made you truly understand the anatomy and science behind how certain animals work. For example, the horse head installation was great - you had a head that showed the horse's muscle structure in one cabinet, a one showing the capillaries and blood flow in the head, and then the skull. They also did this on an even larger scale with an ostrich so you could see just how intricate the biology behind species structure is. They also had random instalments of human models to show the difference and similarities between things such as brain and heart sizes and muscle mass.
I can't explain the feeling of awe I had looking at that elephant and two giraffes. I've seen both animals in zoo environments before but obviously you can only get so close to them. Seeing just how big they are and seeing things like an elephant's leg was pretty much the same size as me at 5ft 2 on a good day was a feeling that I just can't describe. If you have the opportunity to check out this exhibition, I could not recommend it enough. I experienced it in such a great way because the exhibition was empty for 80% of the time I was in there so I was super lucky, but even if it was jam-packed, it would still be worth it. This particular showing of it at the Life Science Centre is still showing until the 8th January 2017 so definitely check it out if you're local or close to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. If not, keep an eye on Bodyworlds' Exhibition Calendar to see where it's showing next - they're currently dotted around Germany and in Florida too! If you can't unfortunately see it in the flesh (no pun intended) or you think seeing it up close would be a little too much, check out a lot more of my photos on my Flickr account.