updated 8/23/2005 11:11:51 PM ET 2005-08-24T03:11:51

More than 12,000 people came to the Museum of Science and Industry in the first four days of an exhibit featuring preserved human cadavers and body parts, breaking records set by a 2003 exhibit about the Titanic, museum officials said.

The 20 cadavers and 260 body parts in “BODIES, the Exhibition” are preserved with a process that replaces soft tissue with silicone rubber. Skin is removed, exposing muscles, bones, organs, tendons, blood vessels and brains. Similar exhibitions have drawn millions of visitors around the world.

The bodies in the Tampa exhibit, which opened Aug. 18 and is scheduled through February, belonged to Chinese people who died unidentified or unclaimed by family members and were preserved at the Dalian Medical University of Plastination Laboratories in China, according to the exhibition’s medical director, Roy Glover.

The exhibit came under fire from a state agency whose members were uncomfortable that no permission was obtained from the deceased or their families. The museum went ahead with the exhibit and Anatomical Board dropped its effort to stop it.

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