Thursday, November 25, 2010

TAM: Living Not So Quitely in Kansas

The recent post on the oddities of the Sloan Museum prompted several email inquiries about the beloved TAM. So I'm re-posting an item on everybody's favorite transparent woman. Here's the original item from November 9, 2008:

Flintoids, I may have found the Sloan Museum's TAM. She's apparently living under a bizarre alias — Valeda — at the Kansas Learning Center for Health after skipping bail in Flint for obscenity charges. And she's German!

"Valeda stands on a revolving pedestal in a small auditorium at the Kansas Learning Center for Health where thousands of visitors have heard her describe the human body as various organs light up. Valeda was assembled bit by intricate bit. The original mold was made by completely coating the body of a living, 28-year-old German woman with a rubber composition. This was allowed to harden, then peeled off to form the mold for Valeda’s plastic skin. Her aluminum skeleton is situated exactly as it is in the normal human body."
TAM, please come back to The Vehicle City.

Oh, wait, TAM has also been spotted hanging out with Nirvana...

In fact, according to Roadside America, TAM and her extended family have been showing up — and lighting up — all over the place.

"... A new generation of transparent women were created as public health education tools; some toured in mobile exhibits until finally settling down as the centerpieces of health museums. Transparent men, on the other hand, are hard to find (the Mayo Clinic Museum displayed one before it closed down, an original, sun-worshipping German model). This is probably because pregnancy makes for a more interesting story, and American educators, as always, are reluctant to expose kids to transparent glowing male genitalia.
"The greatest profusion of transparent women appeared on the health education scene when designer Richard Rush developed the first Transparent Anatomical Mannikin (TAM) in 1968. The see-through woman was 5' 8" of vacuum-formed, plastic organ goodness. TAMs were wired so specific areas and body systems would light up on command, as part of a pre-recorded presentation. Rush eventually produced 42 TAMs, many which are still in service."


  1. Gordie,

    Thanks for all your great research. In looking at the pictures that you turned up, it really is a pretty cool concept. Oh what I give to hear that presentation now without being distracted by the giggles. I am really hoping that someone can provide some insight as to what happened to *our* TAM.

    Kathy W.

  2. As much as I can appreciate the kitschiness of "TAM", it's a pity there never was a "MAT" created to embarrass all school children equally. Equal opportunity, bebeh!


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at