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Friday, October 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Remaking Mobius: Science center gets ready to open in its new home

Justin Berestein, with Lynx Exhibits, sets up a display of a preserved female that is part of the “Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion” exhibit, set to open on Friday at Mobius Science Center. The traveling exhibit features more than 100 authentic human specimens, including whole bodies, individual organs and transparent body slices preserved through a special process called plastination. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Justin Berestein, with Lynx Exhibits, sets up a display of a preserved female that is part of the “Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion” exhibit, set to open on Friday at Mobius Science Center. The traveling exhibit features more than 100 authentic human specimens, including whole bodies, individual organs and transparent body slices preserved through a special process called plastination. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Some of the first visitors to Mobius Science Center’s new location arrived Monday in a big orange truck.

The passengers are part of the special exhibit “Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion.”

The six bodies are in active poses – one is kicking a soccer ball, another, called The Thinker, is posed like the statue of the same name and has most of the skull taken away to expose the brain – preserved through “plastination.” During the process, bodily fluids are extracted and replaced with reactive plastics.

Mobius CEO Phil Lindsey said he’s thrilled to be bringing something this exciting to Spokane.

“The thing that’s so good about this is it’s us, it’s who we are,” Lindsey said.

The goal is to allow people to see the inner workings of the human body, and how lifestyle choices can affect health. The exhibit also has other specimens, including transparent body slices and individual organs, comparing a smoker’s lung or a liver with cirrhosis to healthy specimens, for instance.

Though people are often taken aback at first, there’s a lot to see, Lindsey said.

“It’s the eww factor,” he said. “Once they get past that, then they really want to look and learn.”

Some of the displays include exposed genitalia. The museum is recommending the exhibit for people 10 and older. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

“It’s very rare that you get to come face to face with what we are inside. It’s fascinating to see how people react to that.”

“Bodies Human” will take up about a third of the exhibit space. A new permanent exhibit, “SuperStruct” is also opening Friday. It’s a hands-on engineering activity where visitors play with things like pulleys and gears. Kits will allow people to build things like wind-powered cars, then test them out.

“There’s all sorts of fun stuff they can do with it,” Lindsey said.

Another new exhibit looks at how the Spokane River is used to create hydroelectricty. It’s created by Avista, who’s leasing the annex to the Washington Water Power building to Mobius for $1 a year.

The 1911 building is brick, with big windows and views of the Spokane River, Monroe and Post street bridges, the SkyRide, and the Spokane County Courthouse. Inside, some of the building’s vintage elements remain, including exposed brick walls and a sliding metal door.

And though it’s more than 100 years old, Lindsey said the $1.2 million renovations went along on schedule. There were a few surprises, of course, but “no real gotchas, which we sort of expected,” he said.

The space is about two-thirds the size of Mobius’ former home on Main Avenue, which it moved out of in March 2015. In the interim, some exhibits were at the Downtown Spokane Public Library.

“We’re very much space constrained,” Lindsey said. “When you only have 8,000 square feet, you have to be very clever with it.”

Part of that will mean switching things up. Lindsey said the museum plans to have something new every six months. Early in 2017, after “Bodies Human” leaves, the museum will be opening a makers space and a 3-D movie theater. More traveling exhibits are in the works as well.

Having the permanent home is going to help museum staff be able to do better long-term planning, Lindsey said. Getting “Bodies” was about a two-year process he said. Eventually he’d like to be three years out on programs.

“We’re finally in a position where we can think like that.”

Some of the exhibits will be familiar to past visitors, among them: bridge building, water rockets and reptiles.

But even most of the permanent exhibits aren’t all that permanent. The life span for many is only three to five years, Lindsey said.

“Science advances, tastes change,” he said. “We want to be a flexible organization that reflects the current science.”

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