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After a week of busy media and VIP events, our Animal Inside Out exhibition bared all to the public for its Easter opening yesterday on Good Friday.

 

The exhibition, which is adapted from Gunther von Hagens' famous Body Worlds plastinated shows, is set to flex its momentous muscles and open hearts throughout the coming summer months. As well as being an illuminating anatomical journey, it really is something to behold. At times the exhibits appear more like artworks than plastinated animals with exposed inner organs. The gallery has been beautifully designed and lit. There's no doubt it will be big success.

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Actress Miranda Richardson contemplates the enormous 4-tonne, plastinated elephant at our recent Animal Inside Out celebrity event.

Among the VIPs who attended the exhibition's recent celebrity launch were Miranda Richardson, Bill Wyman, Celia Sawyer, Will Self, and John Humphrys. Enjoy some of the photos from the night and some of the other stars of the show.

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Musician Bill Wyman looks into the eyes of the goat

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Four Rooms dealer Celia Sawyer gets interior design tips from the plastinated cuttlefish

For the launch events, Dr Angelina Whalley from the Insitute for Plastination and co-founder of Body Worlds was at hand to answer questions. I asked her if there was an animal they hadn't yet plastinated but would like to. She told me: 'It's Gunther's dream to plastinate a blue whale. But the elephant was such an enormous challenge, and so costly, I am not wishing for that to come true too quickly'.will-self-horse-head-1000.jpg

Writer Will Self looks a stripped horse head in the mouth.. the horse's head is cut into three sections to show it's inner workings.

The exhibition focuses on six different internal anatomical systems: the muscular, blood, skeletal, digestive, nervous, and reproductive. From tiny chicks to towering giraffes, it features nearly 100 plastinated animals.

 

If you are considering visiting with children, have a look at the exhibition website and highlghts slideshow to see what's inside.

 

Buy tickets for Animal Inside Out

 

Find out more about the exhibition and plastination

 

Read the news story about the exhibition and the plastination of the elephant

More celebrity photos at Animal Inside Out's launch event. Select images to enlarge them

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Actress Olivia Grant
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Presenter John Humphrys

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Fashion designer Pam Hogg

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Journalist Kate Adie

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Actor Rafe Spall

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Presenter Evan Davis
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Presenter Dallas Campbell
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The Central Hall's famous Diplodocus skeleton has a new furry friend this week. A bactrian camel with two humps and three heads - well actually it's one head in three sections - which stands proudly displaying its inner anatomy in front of the grand staircase and Charles Darwin's statue.

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The plastinated camel in the Museum's Central Hall gives us a peek into Animal Inside Out, opening for Easter.

This unmissable plastinated specimen is one of the spectacular creatures from our next big exhibition, Animal Inside Out, which opens its doors to the public on Good Friday, 6 April. The camel points the way to the Waterhouse Gallery where the exhibition is currently being installed. We've adapted Gunther von Hagens' Animal BodyWorlds and this is the first time the show will be seen in the UK.

 

I asked Paul Gallagher who is managing the installation of Animal Inside Out how things were behind the scenes:

 

'The exhibition arrived on Saturday 24 March, in six large truck loads from Germany. For this particular unload we had to build an extra sturdy scaffold platform at the front of the Museum capable of withstanding loads up to three tonnes. We also had to use thicker protective wooden boards throughout the unload route into the Museum. And then we laid heavy strong steel plates to help bridge the changing floor levels between the Central Hall mosaic tiles and the fossil gallery wooden floor.

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'Some of the larger exhibits such as the shark and the gorilla had to be unpacked outside and brought in piece-by-piece as they were too big to go through the doors.

 

'The bull arrived wrapped in very tight black plastic which looked really surreal in the fading night light as we fork-lifted it onto the platform. Luckily for us, the huge elephant came in several smaller sections in flight cases on wheels which all fitted through all our doorways easily!

 

'Walking around the exhibition space, it's clear that the larger creatures will undoubtedly be the stars of the show for their sheer scale and dominance in the gallery. The huge charging bull seemingly frozen in time as a centrepiece really demonstrates the real power and presence of this animal. I wouldn't wave a red flag here. But there are plenty of smaller specimens in the glass showcases that will excite visitors.

 

'Another really exciting aspect of this show is the newly-designed graphic panels that we’ve produced here in-house by our own resident designer. He has created a stunning series of really dynamic yet elegant sketches using all sorts of animals in various poses that really complement the exhibit descriptions. These really enhance the 3D objects on display. They are so good that I hear some will feature on our merchandise range in the exhibition's shop. So I know I’ll be getting a T shirt!

 

giraffe-installation.jpg'The camel plastinate which has just been unveiled in the Central Hall is an attractor for the exhibition. Luckily this is on wheels so even though it weighs over 1 tonne it can be moved quite easily for the many functions that take place there in the evenings unless of course our clients are happy to invite it to their event.

 

''Having shown a few people round the gallery already, the first thing most say is: ‘these aren’t real animals though are they?’ So it’s really great when you tell them that ‘oh yes, they are real. Their faces change dramatically as they can’t believe it. Then they usually say ‘WOW. How amazing it’s unbelievable’’. So I hope all our visitors will feel the same way too.'

 

Watch this space for more animal insides news next week.

 

Find out more about Animal Inside Out on our exhibition website.

 

Buy tickets for the exhibition

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On 20 July 2011, we celebrate the 207th birthday of Sir Richard Owen, the driving force behind the creation of the Natural History Museum, which during his time was called the British Museum of Natural History.

 

It was in 1856 that Owen became the first Superintendent of the British Museum's natural history departments and immediately began to campaign for a new museum dedicated to natural history. The rest is history.. well, natural history to be exact.

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Portraits of the Museum's founding father and inventor of 'dinosaurs', Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892) as a young man and later on in life

Sir Richard Owen was one of the most important scientists in history, but many may not know his name. Besides being the founding father of our Museum, he achieved many great things in his long life, from coining the word 'dinosaur' to revolutionising the study of animal anatomy and creating the life-size Crystal Palace dinosaurs that we can still see today (pictured below).

 

Without him the world of natural history and the Museum would be very different. During the height of his power he was a celebrity of Victorian England and even gave the Queen's children biology lessons.

 

But Owen was also a controversial figure. His gifts to science and the country brought him incredible fame and power. With these came enemies. His manipulative and hostile personality didn't gain him favours and his rivalry with Darwin and Darwin's supporters was well-known. Later on, his reputation suffered as allegations of taking credit for other scientists’ work abounded.

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After his death, his legacy was forgotten and it has only been in the last two decades that his story has been revived.

 

Join us on Wednesday 20 July at 14.30 in the Attenborough Studio for a special Nature Live talk celebrating Sir Richard Owen's birthday. We'll rediscover exactly what Owen did for us, explore his life and delve into why he is still controversial today.

 

Left: Admire our statue of Sir Richard Owen in the mezzanine gallery behind the Central Hall when you next visit. (Turn left at the top of the grand Central Hall staircase.)

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Right: Dinosaur models sculpted by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins working closely with Joseph Paxton and Sir Richard Owen, were installed in the world's first dinosaur park which opened at Crystal Palace Park in 1854.

 

Find out more about Sir Richard Owen online