Coming to a museum near you! Katrina Victims Bodies on Display! Twenty African African-American, unclaimed and unknown victims of this hurricane tragedy are artistically dissected and posed in lifelike educational exhibits.Â See a body’s muscles as they ripple from the exertion of running away from a breaking levee.Â See a cross-section of a drowning victim’s lung to see how much water it can hold before death. Examine the impact of alcohol on a liver of a drunk homeless person. It’s a moving and educational experience!
This exhibit does not exist, thankfully, not because there aren’t unclaimed victims of Katrina.Â There are still about 100 unclaimed Katrina victims that are still refrigerated, awaiting burial.Â It does not exist because of the staggering outcry an exhibition like this would bring.Â The public would collectively say that showing the dead in this manner is undignified and against the customs of all cultures.
Since the dawn of time, humankind has always treated the dead with respect.Â This respect is so important that the breaking of this is taboo, a shocking and horrific deed.Â The imagery of an American soldier being dragged through the streets or a body of a young black man hung from a tree is unbearable and has mobilized people into action to change the course of history.
Add race or religion to this mix and you’d have a total inferno.Â Just the thought of displaying twenty dead African African-Americans without their consent is unfathomable.Â How about twenty dissected and unclaimed Jews? How would you feel?Â How about twenty Chinese?
Wait. Twenty Chinese?Â Twenty Chinese on display without their consent.
Where’s the outrage?
Bodies: the Exhibition, opening February 1, 2008 at Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, is just such an exhibition.
Preserved and dissected Chinese bodies are being put on display without their consent. Premier Exhibitions, Inc. chief medical advisor, Dr. Roy Glover, states in a letter to the Columbus Dispatch September 24, 2007:
“We have legal documentation and representation that confirms that only
the bodies of people who are deceased from natural causes have been
included in the exhibition and have been acquired by legal means with
the highest of ethical standards.”
It is standard practice not only throughout Asia but also here in the
United States for unclaimed and unidentified bodies to be offered to
medical schools for education, the core of our exhibition.”
(bold text- my emphasis)
If you died today, would you volunteer to be stripped of your skin, pumped up with liquid plastic, cut up, and posed in a museum display?Â Maybe, yes, maybe no. But at least that would be YOUR choice.Â By using “unclaimed and unidentified bodies” Premier Exhibitions, Inc. clearly does not get consent from the dead.Â These bodies are condemned to a lifetime of traveling to shopping malls in the name of “education” as part of this freakish sideshow.Â
Premier Exhibitions, Inc. states that it’s common for “unclaimed and unidentified bodies to be offered to
medical schools for education”.Â But before Premier Exhibitions, Inc. brought this show to “educate” the masses in Cincinnati, this show had traveled to these noted centers of higher learning:
Las Vegas: Tropicana Resort & Casino
New York, South Street Seaport (Dining & Entertainment Center)
San Diego, University Towne Center (Mall)
Columbus, OH, Easton Market (Mall- Exhibit in was in a closed CompUSA)
Framingham, MA (Mall- Exhibit in was in a closed CompUSA)
Durham, NC, Streets at Southpoint (Mall)
Shopping malls and a casino.Â If you donated your body to science, would you expect it to be seen at a casino?Â
Let’s be clear that this is a for profit show. Premier Exhibitions, Inc.
is a publicly traded company with shareholders to answer to. The Cincinnati Museum Center believes this
exhibit combined with the previous Pirates exhibit will create the
“busiest 12 months in Museum Center history.”Â Traveling exhibitions
like this are big business in the same tradition as carnivals and freakshows of the 19th century.Â Bodies, the Exhibition is now one of a
number of competing traveling exhibitions in the country.
Museums with higher ethical standards will not allow exhibits such as this. The City of San Francisco has already banned this type of exhibition and the State of Washington has a law in the works that would do the same.
Showcasing the deceased in this manner without their permission is wrong.Â Charging money and profiting from unclaimed bodies is even worse.Â Is it not our duty as humanity to care for those who are less fortunate?Â I think one of the saddest things is to leave this world alone and to have no one to mourn or even to remember you.Â Instead of giving dignity, respect, or even pity, we’ve turned these unfortunate souls into museum displays to roam our country for profit as property for their owners.
Consent is critical.Â If consent doesn’t matter then we’d be harvesting organs from all the dead to save the living.
It is educational, but the Nazi’s experimented on Jews in the name of education.Â That’s not right .
Ethics are important not some thing to be skirted.
Let’s end this now and take a stand here in Cincinnati and let the world know that it is not right and not ethical to show unclaimed bodies without their informed consent.Â That it is wrong to show the dead for profit.Â We are better than this, as Cincinnatians, as Americans, as humanity.
Resources and more information:
News and Opinion
SeattlePI.com: If only these bodies could talk
NYTimes: China Turns Out Mummified Bodies for Displays
The Epoch Times: ‘BODIES . . . The Exhibit’ is Gruesome Show of Unidentified Dead
NYTimes: Cadaver Exhibition Raises Questions Beyond Taste
SeattlePI.com: Education or freak show? ‘Bodies … The Exhibition’ cashes in on our own curiosity
Pittsburgh Post Gazette: China ‘Bodies’ exhibit raises hackles here
RedOrbit: Museum Plans to Open Corpse Show in Fla.
SeattlePI.com: $10,000 reward posted to find who stole kidney from display
SeattlePI.com: First Person: Exploiting the poor beyond death
Cincinnati specific articles
From WCPO.com: Bodies …The Exhibition Draws Criticism (VIDEO)
From WCPO.com: Bodies …The Exhibition Draws Criticism (Story)
Cincinnati Enquirer: Archbishop says no to ‘Bodies’ exhibit
Cincinnati Enquirer: ‘Bodies’ exhibits troubling ethical issues
Cincinnati Enquirer: Exhibit to show real bodies
DocGrubb’s opinion piece
Cincinnati Enquirer: Bizarre ‘Bodies’ left me queasy
Protest and Information Sites
Stop Body Worlds and other exhibits of plasticized bodies
The Anti-BODIES Virtual Protest Site
No Bodies 4 Profit
seattlechatclub.org: The Mystery of the Crying Cadavers