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Friday, April 06, 2012

Animal Inside Out: Plastinate Anatomy Exhibit Showcases Real-World Horses and Hooved Mammals at London's Natural History Museum


Hoofcare + Lameness had a front row seat at this week's press preview of the Natural History Museum of London's brand new exhibition: Animal Inside Out.

The exhibit opens to the public today but we were allowed to see it without the crowds in our way, so here's a very special report direct from London,just for Hoof Blog readers.

Guest blogger Sam Lane reports:

If you have never heard of Gunter von Hagens or the phenomenon of Plastination, then this may come across as a creepy and rather unique view of dead animals. For those that have witnessed his human version of Body Worlds from a few years back this is another fascinating and intriguing insight into the anatomy and inside workings of (former) living things.


I have a hatred of badly-curated exhibitions, so I was pleasantly pleased that this was a fantastic experience with beautifully-presented exhibits in cases and on stands with perfect lighting to allow you to view the intricacies of each. I do wonder how it will work when hundred of people are passing through, but I loved it and I was able to take heaps of photos, which I put on flickr.

There is confirmation all around that "none of the animals were killed for the exhibition" and most were donations from zoos. If you are of a sensitive nature some of the exhibits may affect you; no-one really wants to see wonderful creatures cut out, opened up and their insides literally hanging out, but this is fascinating and intriguing, slightly creepy but amazing at the same time.

There's more than one way to slice a giraffe...but this method definitely grabs the visitors' attention.
I was less concerned about (or interested in) the sea-living creatures such as the octopus and the shark but there is a proliferation of four-legged mammals including reindeer, goats and sheep to a magnificent giraffe,a huge bull, a gigantic elephant and a grand gorilla.

And lots of horses. I have a number of horse-adoring friends and family members so I looked at these with disproportional interest. Fascinating. Very, very interesting ways to explain blood circulation, brain function, reproduction and motion. Don't scroll through the images if you are a little squeamish!

Once you get over the fact you are inches away from a dead animal you are looking intensely at the brains, skulls, muscle structure, eyelashes and hair. It is a deeply engrossing and intimate experience and I spent a lot of time trying to imagine how long all this took to do, how messy it must have been etc etc.

The elephant, bull and gorilla are totally magnificent and my photos hardly do them justice - you have to see for yourself.

In homage to Fran and the readers of Hoofcare and Lameness, I liked looking at the feet too:

In my opinion, this exhibit is totally worth a visit; I'd even consider going back, especially with friends and family.


The exhibition runs: 6th April until 16th September 2012. Open: 10am-17.50 pm. Prices: Adults £9, child and concessions £6. Family £27.

--Sam Lane
Living in London blog

Sam Lane is a London-based photographer who has been our "foreign correspondent" recently, during publicity for the film War Horse. She's the daughter of equine veterinarian M B de C Giles MRCVS, who is also an examiner for the Worshipful Company of Farriers. 

All photos in this article are © Sam Lane and Hoofcare Publishing. No reproduction or use without permission.

Plastinated hoof slices are available in North America through Hoofcare Publishing
To learn more:
Plastination is a state-of-the-art process to preserve animal tissue for study. Hoofcare + Lameness supports and is involved with the development of plastinated hoof and distal limb tissue and has worked with Christoph von Horst, PhD, DVM, of Germany to make reasonably priced plastination speciment available to schools, institutions and individuals in North America. Specimen slices start at just $50. More information about plastinate hoof specimen.

A distal limb sliced and preserved by the process of plastination. The first set of these,
which mimics one view of an MRI, was delivered to a US client recently.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to  
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