Great Britain has a new and highly amusing offering for visitors: the National Poo Museum opened last week at the Isle of Wight Zoo. Visitors can see and learn about all different kinds of animal feces and what their ingredients mean. Some of those animals includes elks, lions, human babies, and fossilized excrement up to 140 million years old.
We do learn a lot about how animals, and past generations of people, lived through the stuff we find in their poo. We gain a lot of understanding about what life was like for just about anybody, and that’s important to understanding out future. “[Poo] is stinky, unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous stuff—but it’s all around us and inside us, too—and perhaps surprisingly our planet would be a much poorer place without it,” said a spokesperson for the museum.
The museum will certainly be of interest to children, who tend to be rather fond of poo and of talking about it—a trait people lose later in life as we’re taught not to acknowledge or talk about poo. The museum hopes to reintegrate the smelly topic back into conversation. “For most of us, under the layers of disgust and taboo, we’re still fascinated by it,” explained Nigel George, one of the museum’s curators.
To keep the museum from smelling like its exhibits, a special “dung dryer” was created to remove the odor. Feces from small creatures like insects can be completely dried in about an hour, but larger specimens from animals like lions or tigers (or bears, oh my) can take about two weeks to dry out completely. Specimens are then encapsulated and illuminated in resin spheres, so visitors get the entire experience of the visual with none of the stink.
“We intend to rub people’s noses in important poo-related issues, from dog mess to the effects of diet on the microbiome, to lack of access to sanitation in developing countries,” says the museum’s website. “The National Poo Museum’s mission is to lift the lid on the secret world of poo—to examine our relationship with it and to change forever the way we think about this amazing substance.”
The museum is currently open to visitors.