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Small Museum Sees a Big Future in Cadavers

Small Museum Sees a Big Future in Cadavers

Associated Press/AP Online

December 09, 2010

CHICAGO _ Along Lake Shore Drive’s glittering Gold Coast, a handsome sculpture of a physician comforting an ailing man stands in front of an elegant four-story mansion, calling attention to the museum inside, one known to many as the place they might visit someday but never do.

The 56-year-old International Museum of Surgical Science brings in 20,000 visitors in a good year. It could soon become a much busier place as it taps into a fascination, shown over the last decade, with seeing perfectly preserved human cadavers, dissected to display the complexity of human anatomy.

The plastinated bodies, produced since the 1990s by “Body Worlds,” a German company, have proved so popular in exhibits that competitors popped up to produce similar displays.

One of those competitors has produced an exhibit called “Our Body: The Universe Within,” which opened early this month at the Surgical Science Museum. It’s an exhibit close in size and scope to “Body Worlds” and is being mounted with the hope of boosting attendance by a “factor of three, four or more,” said Max Downham, executive director of the International College of Surgeons, which owns the museum.

If it does, it could become a permanent part of the museum’s collection.

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