The Preservation Process

Polymer preservation, the process used to preserve the specimens for BODIES…The Exhibition, is a revolutionary technique in which human tissue is permanently preserved using liquid silicone rubber. This prevents the natural decay process, making specimens available for study for an indefinite time period.

Polymer preservation provides a closer look at the skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, digestive, urinary, reproductive, endocrine and circulatory systems by unveiling the mysteries of the human anatomy.

How It Works

  • Anatomists fix a specimen with chemicals to temporarily halt the decaying process. They then dissect it to expose important structures.
  • All of the water is removed from the specimen by replacing it with acetone.
  • The specimen is placed into a liquid silicone mixture within a vacuum chamber. Under vacuum, the acetone becomes a gas that is completely replaced by the polymer mixture.
  • Lastly, the silicone polymer is hardened. The end result is a dry, odorless, permanently preserved specimen containing no toxic chemicals. It retains the look of the original, but functions as if it were rubber.
Preparation time varies. A small organ may take only a week, while a full-body specimen may take up to one year to prepare.