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Inside You

Inside You

Adapted from the exhibition The Secret World Inside You organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York ( Inside You explores the rapidly evolving science that is revolutionizing how we view human health. Our bodies are home to many trillions of microbes, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other organisms collectively called the human microbiome. In any human, microbial genes outnumber the genes in human DNA by more than 100 to one. This new perspective leads us to look at our bodies not just as individuals, but as entire ecosystems.

Organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, this new exhibition will introduce visitors to the world of microbes and how they impact our health and well-being. Investigating the human microbiome is a very young science, and researchers are just beginning to understand what constitutes a “normal” microbiome, how it changes over time, and how it affects health and disease. But what is clear is that the effects of the microbiome on its human host are profound and multifaceted—and could play an important role in common health problems like allergies, asthma, obesity, and even anxiety and depression.

Visitors will discover where microbes live in, on, and around them: Microbes thrive on your skin, in your mouth, and also in your gastrointestinal tract, home to your body’s densest and most diverse microbial community—about 100 trillion bacteria, more than all the stars in the Milky Way. Engaging graphics detail how microbes aid digestion, influence your immune system, and help fight harmful microbes. You’ll find out how we acquire our microbiome and how it is shaped by the foods we eat and the environment we live in. There will also be a video featuring some of the scientists who are breaking new ground in microbiome research.

How do your interactions with microbes—from who you touch and what you wear to the pets you keep—influence your health? In what ways can your microbiome be said to be its own organ? And is it possible that the state of the bacteria in your gut plays a role in your mental health? Inside You dives into these intriguing and other profound questions.

Inside You is co-curated by Susan Perkins and Rob DeSalle, curators in the American Museum of Natural History’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology and the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics.