AT ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center,
at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, we recognize
the importance and responsibility of hosting the world-class
exhibit, Our Body: The Universe Within.
We hope you find the list of questions and answers
below helpful as you learn more about this fascinating,
artful and highly scientific exhibit at ECHO April 14 through
Q: Who organized and produced Our Body: The Universe
A: Our Body: The Universe Within is
a traveling science exhibit on human anatomy produced
by Studio 2 Promotions. The exhibit educationally and
artfully displays approximately 200 organs, human bodies
and other anatomical specimens that reveal an enlightening
understanding of the human body. Our Body: The
Universe Within should not be confused with other
traveling exhibitions, including "Body Worlds"
or "Bodies, The Exhibition", nor is it affiliated
with either exhibition. The typical exhibit size is approximately
15,000 sq. ft., The ECHO version is scaled
down to 6,000sq. ft.
Q: What is highlighted in Our Body: The Universe
A: Our Body: The Universe Within allows
people to learn about their own bodies and, ultimately,
teaches them how to take better care of their health and
make positive lifestyle choices. The exhibition enables
them to see and understand the medical conditions friends
and family members face in a whole new way.
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Q: ECHO is an Aquarium, what is it doing hosting
a show about the human body?
A: ECHO’s primary mission is to educate
folks about the Ecology, Culture, History and Opportunity
for stewardship of the Lake Champlain Basin. We use many
methods to teach this and, as a science center, we invite
and seek out exhibits that both challenge and educate our
greater Vermont audience. Just as the Lake Champlain Basin
has its own ecosystem, so to does each individual body.
How we treat, manage and support our body reflects on the
overall health of our body. This is also true for the Lake
Champlain Basin. The study of the human body also draws
a parallel to the never ending interconnectedness of various
organs, tissues, bones, etc. of the human body and how the
food we eat, water we drink and air we breath affects the
body. The same is true for the Lake Champlain Basin.
Q: Why use real human specimens instead of constructed
A: Unlike models that idealize the body through the eyes
of an artist, the specimens in this exhibition show the
body and its parts as they really exist. Idealized models
have been used for many years to teach about the body. They
do not, however, allow for any variation in structure or
pathologies – which is key in noting how unique our bodies
are. As medical students and individuals have less time
for the study of anatomy, it is even more important to have
these unique specimens to give them both a greater understanding
of anatomy and some sense of the variation of the human
Q: What does polymer impregnation mean?
A: The unique method used to preserve the actual human
specimens is a process in which the body’s water and fat
is replaced with reactive plastics. The polymer plastic
is initially pliable, enabling the specimens to be placed
in different life-like positions and then hardens after
infusions. Organs are identical to their preservation state
down to the microscopic level. Polymer impregnated specimens
are completely dry and odorless. They present the human
body in a dramatic, artful and insightful way.
Q: What part of the anatomy is the hardest to
A: The brain is the most difficult organ to preserve
due to the makeup of the brain, which is primarily composed
of lipids (fat) and water. During the process of polymer
impregnation, the brain can shrink significantly during
dehydration if one is not careful. To manage this problem,
the brain is dehydrated in a cold acetone thus better
maintaining its original size and shape.
Q: What do the polymer-impregnated bodies feel
A: The specimens feel dry to the touch and can be either
rigid or flexible, depending on the mix of chemicals used.
While guests will be able to get very close to the specimens,
as a rule, guests are not allowed to touch them.
Q: What is the appropriate
age level for viewing Our Body: The Universe Within?
A: The teaching of basic human anatomy and physiology are
hallmarks in any child’s education. We recommend that children
attend the exhibition with a teacher or parent as an adult
guide. We feel strongly that the exhibition can offer a
rare family experience: A golden opportunity to open a child’s
eyes – and, in a way no textbook ever could, to teach them
about the complexities of the human body and the necessity
of proper nutrition, regular activity and the importance
of healthy lifestyle choices, such as avoiding smoking and
Q: Where do the specimens originate from?
A: The scientific, educational exhibition, Our
Body: The Universe Within was developed and provided
by the Anatomical Sciences & Technologies Foundation
in Hong Kong.
The specimens in the exhibition were provided by various
accredited Chinese universities, medical schools, medical
institutions, research centers and laboratories to further
the goals of the Anatomical Sciences & Technologies
Foundation which are to promote educational and medical
research of the human body.
Q: Have the persons whose bodies have been donated
consented to their use?
A: Acceptance of corpses (via donation by will or donation
by the relatives) by the Chinese medical schools is the
principle source of obtaining materials for medical anatomy
and educational purposes. In China, all donors (or their
immediate family members) are clearly told that the donated
bodies will be used for medical research and educational
purpose. Meanwhile, they are also guaranteed that all of
their personal information will be treated as confidential.
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