I saw the Bodies the Exhibition in Cincinnati this morning when I visited the Cincinnati Museum Center to film a segment with Fox19 News voicing opposition to the exhibition. I had not planned on seeing the exhibit at all, but when I arrived at the production van at the Museum Center to meet with a reporter, she wasn’t there. It was raining a little so I decided to seek cover inside. I ended up following an electrical cable through a couple of doors and I suddenly I found myself in the middle of the exhibit.
It was a room eerily quiet only inhabited by the dead. Around the corner I could hear the sounds of an interview being done so I followed the reporter’s voice into another room. There she was interviewing Dr. Roy Glover, the chief medical director of the exhibit. I sat down on a bench next to a gentleman who turned out to be Rodger Pille, Director of Media Relations. I had popped in a little unexpectedly and unannounced to the Museum personnel, but they didn’t seem to be too startled by my presence. I was wearing a suit. I remembered hearing how Martin Luther King jr. always wore suits when protesting. It shows that you’re serious and that you mean business.
Anyways, some of the exhibit seems more academic, a heart over here, another organ encased in glass over there. Other organs showing different maladies. This is strongly contrasted with the parts that are meant to be more dramatic and artistic. Seeing the bodies in poses bothered me a little, especially with all I know about the exhibit and the fact that I was totally alone with the bodies. However, it was the props that make the exhibit seem undignified to me. One of the bodies is of a person throwing a baseball. He’s totally naked, except for a glove and ball. Looking at it, it just seemed a little over the top, meant more for pointing at than learning from.
After seeing the exhibit, my thoughts still haven’t changed much. I am firm believer in consent You need to have a donor that gives explicit informed consent. But, my feelings in terms of human dignity might have grown a little more. It isn’t dignified to pose a dead human with a prop. If medical students were caught doing the same with a cadaver, they’d be kicked out of school. The intent may have been education, but it has crossed over to exploitation. And it’s something that I would have rather not seen.