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Not your average fair fare: The L.A. County Fair hosts an exhibit of preserved bodies

September 08, 2010
  • A preserved body is part of the new L.A. County Fair exhibit, "Our Body: The Universe Within."
A preserved body is part of the new L.A. County Fair exhibit, "Our Body:… (Photo courtesy of "Our Body:…)

An exhibit titled "Our Body: The Universe Within" doesn't seem like it would be completely out of place at a county fair. After all, such fairs aren't just about funnel cakes and carnival rides, they're also an opportunity to learn about animals and agriculture and quilts and stuff.

But "Our Body: The Universe Within" is an exhibit of stripped-down, preserved cadavers that show human anatomy in all its glory -- such exhibits have been around for a while, so you probably know what we're talking about.

Sure, it's enlightening, but we associate county fairs with cute pigs and fluffy chickens and funnel cakes, not necessarily seeing exhibts of bare muscle tissue and exposed brains -- especially after eating funnel cake.

But the fair folks saw an opportunity to do something different for the educational component of the event and decided to go for it (the fair partnered with several local healthcare organizations). "I think people may find it a bit surprising that we have something like this," said Leslie Galerne-Smith, communications manager for Fairplex, "but it fits in perfectly with what people are starting to expect from us. This is definitely something that you wouldn't necessarily see at a county fair."

With almost 200 specimens displayed in 15,000 square feet, we have no doubt that the show will be popular with fair-goers. Galerne-Smith said the display doesn't contain cautionary exhibits such as the dessicated livers of alcoholics, the charred lungs of chain smokers or the fat-enrobed organs of obese people, but perhaps it will give patrons an opportunity to think about the physiological consequences of their actions. And by that we mean funnel cake.

The exhibit closes at 9 p.m. and there is an extra admission charge; tickets are available online or at the fair.

--Jeannine Stein / Los Angeles Times

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