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'Body Worlds' adds hours for final days Museum stays open until midnight daily, then around the clock

The Buffalo Museum of Science is pulling out all the stops to make sure anyone who wants to see "Body Worlds & the Story of the Heart" has the chance to do so before the exhibit featuring plasticized cadavers closes.

The Humboldt Parkway museum will be open from 9 a.m. to midnight daily through Thursday, then stay open around the clock from 9 a.m. Friday through 7 p.m. Sunday, when the nearly three-month run ends.

The extended weekday hours and 58-hour weekend "marathon" are unprecedented for the 148-year-old repository of natural science, which expects total attendance for "Body Worlds" to surpass 150,000. That would be a record for shows of similar length.

Seventy-five thousand people -- more than visited the museum during all of 2008 -- came through the door during the first six weeks of "Body Worlds," which features an array of preserved human cadavers as well as healthy and diseased body parts.

Commenting on the response, Mark Mortenson, museum president and CEO, said the traveling exhibit educates visitors "in a way that no anatomy textbook or Web site can" and might "encourage us all to take that first step toward leading and maintaining a healthier lifestyle."

"Body Worlds" features more than 200 human specimens, including whole bodies transformed through "plastination," a technique invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens, a German anatomist, in 1977. All bodies featured in the program were willed by donors during their lifetime expressly to serve the "Body Worlds" mission of educating the public about health and anatomy. The Science Museum's overall attendance record of 242,000 was set by "Dinosaurs Alive!" during a five-month run in 1988.

Since the original "Body Worlds" opened in Japan in 1995, it has been seen by more than 28 million people in Asia, Europe and North America, according to the von Hagens organization. There now are several different traveling versions of the show.

After Sunday, "Body Worlds & the Story of the Heart" will move to Toronto for an Oct. 9 opening.

e-mail: tbuckham@buffnews.com

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