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Sept. 11, 2011
I am a medical student and have dissected several cadavers. I am deeply disturbed by Body Worlds and other such exhibits and the general public acceptance of them. When learning from a cadaver in class, all cadavers are covered, with the only part exposed being the part of which we want to learn from. This helps preserve the body and shows respect for it. I have dissected cadavers in three separate schools. Respect for the cadavers is a must or you will be kicked out of the class. We are not to make jokes about the cadavers, disrespectful remarks, put them in positions for amusement/art (I think we would be expelled if we did that), they are to be nameless, all body parts must stay with the specific cadaver, and we are to only uncover parts being studied. When learning, cadavers are always in anatomical position, not "running" or what ever amusing "artistic" position can be thought up. Learning about the body in this way does not take the individuals dignity or make us value life less, because we are taught to respect it. Since class sizes are small in lab, teachers can rep remand students who attempt to devalue the cadaver.
When I first saw the Body World poster I was horrified. I was certain it would be closed down soon when I heard it was claiming to be "science." As I thought, people in science would never allow this disregard and horrendous display of the human body. Now ever day I drive past the bill boards to school and see it and it really makes me sick. It saddens me very much that so many people cannot see how devaluing this is and how much this will make the next generation devalue human life.
St Louis, MO
June 12, 2010
When I die, I am donating my organs and leaving the rest of me for medical schools. But that doesn't mean that I agree with Bodies the Exhibition show, Bodies World, or any other plasticized human show. I Believe those shows are degrading and in no way meant to educate. It is dehumanizing to exploit those poor victims for selfish profit. I was disgusted with this show from the very first time I ever saw the advertisement. And when I asked my boyfriend if he was interested in seeing this show, he was grossed out and said he wanted to do something happier with his time then go see a depressing show of people we suspect were murdered or at least deprived of their human rights. I think it isn't good for children to see actual human remains preserved in this manner, and especially in a setting taken lightly like some shows have them engaging in sports activities. It tends to make kids insensitive. I want children to know that EVERY life is precious on this planet. And seeing humans on display like that, I felt deep down inside from the moment I first saw this advertised, I knew that the humans were murdered. I just got a chill down my back writing this and my arm hairs are standing up. I think that China treats their prisoners horribly and in no way the same as we treat ours. Our prisoners live in a paradise here protected by our laws. But in China I feel they can easily say their prisoners died of natural causes, but we know the truth, they were killed without amnesia because it is too costly for them. Who knows if they were skinned alive. I know they take their prisoners organs and sell them. Everyone knows you can call China and ask for a kidney and they'll have one ready or at least within a week. They have a database on their prisoners as which blood type and how healthy they are. They take the organs out while the prisons are gagged and still awake feeling the whole pain and then they are shoved into a cremation over right after to discard of remains and evidence. And if this is how they get their organs then I know this is how they got these poor bodies. In America we see life looking through rose colored glasses, but in other countries, money prevails and people will do horrible things to get it.
Thanks for reading this.
October 26, 2009
Thanks for sort of saving my sanity. I thought it would be incumbent on me to figure out where and how express my initial trepidation and ultimate rage.
I had been trying not to notice the large ads on my favorite on-line comics site for the Bodies exhibit in Seattle, then decided to click and see. The nuanced descriptions of fascination and education value, and how children find it fascinating began o activate some very morbid thoughts in my imagination. the photo of a kid staring, i thought, quietly horrified (or worse, dispassionately, hard to tell), at a dissected human propelled me to search more. I guess i became especially disgusted to realize this was a total for profit sideshow, being featured at places like Foxwoods. The disclaimer was the clincher for me, which stated all the bodies were from China, raising many red flags all at once (sorry about the pun).
I posted a message on their website, and have not heard back, but i just sent it yesterday. Here is what i wrote:
As a medical provider (pre hospital) I would find the exhibit interesting, but have issues about displaying the bodies of what were live humans, no evidence of consent from them, for people of all ages to view basically for entertainment. the educational aspect can come through models or computer simulation. China, at this point, has a questionable human rights record, especially where prisoners are concerned. It sounds like, given the lack of guarantees, the origin of the deceased and their cause of death may have been questionable as well. Are the bodies purchased, and if so, who is profiting? I am also concerned of the desensitizing aspect of this exhibit, especially on children, and possibly on unstable individuals. Of course they are fascinated, but there should be a sense of reverence and realization that these displayed bodies were once thinking, breathing entities with love, desire and fear. I eagerly await response from someone willing to engage in dialogue with me about this, or who would please address my concerns. Thank you
Tonight, I have searched the web hoping to find some objection or protest effort or something, and was heartened to find some, but disheartened to learn there has been for some time yet the exhibitor is still reaping in the big bucks and people are bringing their children to view what i feel is appropriate viewing only for those who must learn body systems in order to heal and improve them. And then in must be in the context. And frankly, computer simulation models are better, I think than either animal experimentation or stationary plasticized flesh.
It is interesting to note that the you tube clips and websites featuring the exhibition as guided through by pathologist, and the ones with feedback from visitors who enjoyed the exhibit reap comments by posters who are positive. The sites which feature the exposés, pointing out these bodies may have been murdered prisoners, the feedback is one of horror. This is why I am relieved to find an organized effort bringing information and perspective about this highly exploitative traveling show. Thanks, maybe I can sleep better tonight, if I ever get to bed. Yours,
Janet Martucci Washington, Maine
May 7, 2009
an American citizen studying abroad in Europe since a few years.
Recently, in Heidelberg, there was a Körperwelt show. Fellow students,
also Americans abroad, told me that they had absolutely no problems
with this and have gone to see it multiple times. I was totally
shocked. Now, I've just read that von Hagens opened a new exhibit
showing corpses having sexual intercourse. Are we that depraved?
so glad I found your website, because somehow, level-headed people who
have a sense for human dignity are hard to find in my immediate
surrounding. Everyone thinks that it's simply a matter of personal
aesthetic preference, and the ethical issue is dismissed with a simple:
"it's for education". If I tell them about the dubious origins, they
only react in the extreme cases of executed prisoners, but don't care
if the bodies are "not claimed". The most surprising of all is that
the whole concept of human dignity is totally missing from their
thinking. The idea that even with consent, this kind of display of
human bodies is a desecration against human dignity is not understood.
I'm afraid of the people around me: what kind of perverted monsters
lurk within each of these smiling faces?
In my opinion, no human
body should be displayed after death in such a manner, especially not
for profit and entertainment, even with consent. If we lose our respect
for dead bodies, we will soon lose respect for the living bodies.
Second, I don't think corpses are neccessary for general public
education. There are plenty of alternatives. And third, knowing full
well about the dubious origins of many of these corpses, plus the
expanding trade in human body parts, every one of these shows, even
those whith 100% consenting doners will spawn immitation shows with
executed prisoners, murdered mentally-ill, abandoned children, etc.
And lastly, I find it troublesome that these shows have caused so much
de-sensitization to death and the manipulation of human remains. There
is implicit in all these shows a disrespect for human life.
very concerned about the success of these shows, and I hope there might
be something I could do. I've tried to talk to people, but the
seduction of these macabre exhibitions is too great and I end up
speaking to deaf ears. My friends even consider me hysterical and a
kill-joy. The strangest thing is, most of them are relgious (catholic,
protestant, muslim, orthodox, etc.) and I am the only atheist. It's
quite a paradox that I'm the only one defending the sacredness of human
life, human dignity, and the human body and that I should raise the
ethics issue for them. I thought that their religions whould take care
of that, especially concerning desecration after death. I just don't
understand it. It's equally paradoxal that they go there in the name
of "science", although they were the first to challenge the validity of
science when we discuss other topics.
The only comfort I
found was when searching the internet. On April 22, 2009, the French
court shut down such a exhibit using a new law passed in their
legislature about respecting dead bodies. It is also important to note
that they did not ban these exhibitions on the grounds of dubious
papers, but on the grounds of human dignity. I'm so glad that France
set an example.
Thank you for being there and thank you for giving a place for individual voices. Otherwise I would have felt so alone here.
Marianne followed up on June 9, 2009:
I've been talking to people who actually went to those shows. A fellow
student who happened to be Catholic told me that she attended one of
these shows where fetuses were on display. She said that it educated
her on the issue of abortion. After the show, she viewed early term
abortion as "not bad at all" because the embryos "didn't look human at
all". Although I'm reluctantly pro-choice for many other reasons, the
fact that embryos don't look human was never one of them. You can
imagine how shocked I was.
On the other hand, talking did make a
difference. In addition to informing people who went there about the
consequences of such shows (for some, these ideas were totally new), I
was also able to meet some other people who shared my opinions-- both
among religious and secular peers.
These talks also
enlightened me about something: that the sensitivity for the value of
human dignity is something people acquire early in their lives. It is
almost impossible to explain to someone who does not value human
dignity what the entire concept means. To those, I could only use
pragmatic arguments... but they never "saw the light", but simply
agreed to arguments of higher social utility. That saddens me very
October 29, 2008
recently found out about the Bodyworld that opened up in Salt Lake
City. I did not know much about such museums before. But I also will
not let my senses become deadened to the acute and obvious wrong that
is taking place now across the US and even abroad. The main point I'd
like to share is that we have all the materials to make look-a-likes
for bodies, animals, or anything- thanks to hollywood. The sad fact is,
if these body's on display were not real these museums would not be
popular and not be making money. They were created to make money
disguised in the name of science and art. It is not necessary to
display real human bodies that lived on this earth. They are creations
of God. And some people have chosen to make money off of death. They
are too cheap to go make plastic human imitations of the body. Instead,
they save money and use real bodies instead. To have these museums
accepted in this nation will be a huge contribution towards our immoral
and desensitized nation. Murder and grotesque horrors will continue to
rise as we continue to lose respect for the Human Life. These museums
are a travesty and mocks our claim that we are civilized. Rather, by
accepting these body museums by calling it art or science, we are no
better than perverted distinguished animals.
Utah Valley, Uta
August 13, 2008
A friend innocently mentioned they were
going for a brief getaway and that they might stop at the Art Deco Natural
Historic Museum in Cincinnati. They have a young son. When I sent an
impassioned plea to not go there, and why I came upon your site. I noticed no
recent comments were made and want to add mine.
I am appalled that a city like Cincinnati
and the Museum has allowed this exhibit to go on for so long, apparently
continuing to make a profit. It is a sad commentary on our society that people
attend every day viewing, basically, murdered victims from a repressive government.
Please write your Congressman in support of
house bill, HR 5677. Although Congress is in summer recess, perhaps it can be
taken up again. Because of the many people who somehow believe that “freedom
of expression” actually gives dispensation for viewing bodies of murdered
Chinese, and protesters have been threatened and taken from premises of these
exhibits, the only way to stop the continued victimization and keep demand for
more prisoners bodies high, is to stop the importation of these bodies.
If they were NOT real bodies, learning
about the body is fine. But some Americans are a lazy lot, and want to become
experts in an hour on any given subject. If you want to learn about the body,
attend a college class or the free health classes offered by hospitals. Devote
your life to saving real people in any of the excellent health or rescue fields
This is a portion of the e-mail I sent-
In addition to believing that it is
denigrating to the body God gave us to plasticize it in the way that they do,
having the bodies “perform” odd motions, etc., I am very convinced
the bodies are of young, undoubtedly Chinese, dissidents who were executed and
the bodies sold on the black market. The whole thing is revolting, because of
this. They were smuggled in as “medical models, plastic” and they
are actually plasticized bodies. The 20/20 story and others do have compelling
evidence that the living people did NOT give permission (as with another group in
Europe-grotesque but the people knew what was happening to them.) These people were
not only imprisoned and executed in life but then are forever imprisoned after
death, in plastic, for hordes of Americans and others to stare at.
Pam Miller Howard, Dayton, Ohio
March 31, 2008
I went to the Our Body exhibit in Mobile, AL while I was visiting the area. Just a couple of things.
I have been seeing these types of tours where I live and throughout the
US, but I didn't hear about all the controversy until after I went and
wondered, "I am I the only person who doesn't think this is legit?" So
I looked it up and found your site. I hate to pull the race card but I
really wonder, if these were all white cadavers would these exhibits
even be allowed? If they were all Black, you can be sure the Black
community would have something to say about it. But since they are all
Chinese, we tend to turn a blind eye?? The further I got into the
exhibit the more I became angry and disgusted. Someone behind me
actually said, "Well you know it's China, so they just scoop them [the
dead bodies] right out of the river...they got enough people anyway."
2) In today's world we have computers that can
scan our bodies and create 3D images of all our organs, blood vessels,
and nerves. Why do we need to dissect actual bodies to see inside of
ourselves? I thought we invented these technologies so we would no
longer have to do that. I can honestly say that the body systems I saw
were no more educational than the ones I saw in my health and science
Colorado Springs, CO
March 12, 2008
am a medical student in Oklahoma City, OK. I went yesterday with our
professor to view the Our Body: The Universe Within exhibit. I can’t
sleep… I can’t seem to get their faces out of my mind. The guilt and
pain I feel over viewing this exhibit is outrageous. They dehumanize
these people. It couldn’t be for science… Its just not possible. It is
morbid and sick. I cannot even describe what type of person would
create something such as this. My friend and I were searching for a
petition in Oklahoma that is working towards outlawing these viewings.
We could not find one so we were creating one. One of the people that
left a comment on your site wrote it beautifully. I want to ask her
permission to use her statement in our petition. I do not know how to
contact her. If you could contact her for us… I would greatly
appreciate it. Please give her my email too. Thank you for this site. I
hope it changes things.
March 5, 2008
This was written for our community college newspaper. You may use it with my blessing.
QV Commons Late Edition
A New Day Has Dawned in Connecticut
by Edward R. Mortimer
The 1st Annual Quinebaug Valley Community College Arts & Science
Entertainment Expedition to see the flayed, sliced and diced human
beings on display will soon set off for fun and games! Tittering
students will drive off to Hartford to stare, ogle and gawk to the full
extent of their school-funded discount price. What a bargain! Where
else, for only ten U.S. Dollars, can you see humans scientifically, but
artfully, ripped open, cut into pieces and posed in oh so delicate ways
without all that bloody mess that usually accompanies such activities?
Why, it's almost religious in the experience!
to market this, they could make a mint. Besides being fun it could
perform a valuable public service. Just imagine Plastinating Body Shop
franchises popping up next to McDonalds everywhere. Bring in your dead,
and for less than the cost of a funeral, plastinate that loved one for
permanent display as a lawn ornament. Wonderful! Put wheels on them so
they can be easily taken in and out of storage. Pose them in their
favourite team's uniform, and trot them out for every home game! Take
them to tailgating parties! Use them to scare off burglars, or crows.
Or, for sweet revenge, pose and dress them in embarrassing positions!
Oh, wouldn't that be a riot at the next tea and tart social?
Why, that gives me another great idea! Excess humans can be plastinated
and set up as chess pieces for life-size games in every public park. In
fact, all those tenement eyesores can be bulldozed for new flower
filled plazas. No more noisy neighbours! What's not to love?
There is no shortage of superfluous people to use as raw material. Look
at all the degenerates that clog up our communities, lowering property
values and endangering our children. They could finally be doing
something worthwhile, and it would make every neighborhood a pleasant
place to live. And, oh my, wouldn't it be lovely to not have to listen
to them rant anymore? There is just so much noise and argument in this
world that we can never get any thing done, or have any proper peace
and quiet. If we could have all the rabble rousers, misfits and freaks
cleaned up, dressed properly and hair done stylishly, but
conventionally – and oh yes, all those nasty tattoos and piercings
covered over and filled in with some new People-Plaster product (which,
by the way, opens the door to more new financial opportunities) – we
can finally enjoy life without all that squalour and clamour. In fact,
it would be restfully quiet now that only the soft strands of
intellectual music would fill the air; no more screeching or awful
explosions of bass guitars and raucous drumming blasting from
boom-boxes and car stereos.
Instead of always releasing
those dirty, uncouth criminals back into the public when their
sentences are finished, we could finally be rid of their hurtful
insanities while still preserving their beauty. You have to admit, some
of those bad boys & girls would be just so deliciously sexy if they
were cleaned up, and shut up. Why, I imagine a special adults-only
playset would be a hot seller. Of course, those bodies would have to
easily store in the bedroom closet, but I'm sure that won't be a
problem for our good old American ingenuity. The possibilities are
endless! Imagine: automated plastinated bodies for fortune telling
booths, carnival scare houses and school biology classes. Stick a
computer brain in their heads and we can have plastinated bodies as
casino card dealers, toll booth attendants, theater ticket takers and
factory assembly line workers. There is also the fantastic opportunity
for numerous spin-off products to keep the bodies new and shiny, and to
fix the inevitable wear and tear marks!
Don't forget, they
could also be performing a great human service: before we plastinate
them we can use their healthy organs for medical transplant in order to
save the lives of the more respectable folk, like us.
let's finally do something about all the crazy protesters, smelly
riff-raff and illegal immigrants clogging up our communities with all
their poverty, addictions and bad manners. I think Plastinating Body
Shops is the wave of the future. Not only will it be educational and
artistic, it will be fun too!
But we better get crackin'
'cause China has a head start on us, and just look at the horde of
people they can turn into plastic. Why, they could flood the market
before we even get started!
February 28, 2008
recently saw the the Bodies Exhibition, I had heard rave reviews from
people I spoke to, -I was in two minds about going, but I went,
I did a little bit of research (not enough) before going.
I feel sadly haunted by the Bodies Exhibit, in one way it was
fascinating to see the inside of your body in great detail and gain a
greater respect for your own,
but how many of these bodies are
there? 1 or 2 cadavers would of been sufficient, for only one free
"educational" travelling exhibition. There must of been over
full bodies in the exhibition I saw, does anybody know how many of
these exhibitions exist though out the world? How many human bodies are
preserved like this,
It's crazy! I have only been made aware of
these exhibits in the last 2 weeks. I wouldn't doubt for a second that
the bodies were illegally supplied somewhere
along the line.I
believe that, maybe a handful of people in the world would like to be
presented like this in death, (with their next of kin agreeing to it).
it sad enough that the bodies were "unclaimed", sadder still that they
are transported across the world away from there origins and presented
a bizarre fashion to be oggled at skinned and naked!! How hard do the
officials try to contact the next of kin before they are labeled as
It truly is a seedy awful business, I
shamefully ignorantly payed my $23 perpetrating the whole nasty million
Any thoughts on donating my organs have subsequently been squelched, unless my next of kin get the big bucks!!!
I hang my head in silence in respect for the dead that I viewed and their families.
Febrary 17, 2008
It's hard for me to believe that this situation exists. I have 3
primary objections to putting plasticized bodies on display: (1) any
time that there is an economic market for dead bodies (as apparently
there is for these "specimens"), nothing good can come from it. There
will inevitably be immoral, money-hungry people who will decide to
harvest individuals so that their dead bodies can be sold to become
plasticized. (2) even if there were no money involved at all
(preparation, exhibits, etc.), the very idea of putting these
plasticized bodies on display is immoral, unethical, and repulsive in
every way. Is there no respect for human life and dignity for the
deceased? (3) the claims are that the bodies all come from China and
all are either willing donors or unclaimed bodies. Given China's
track record, I don't think that China could be trusted on this.
Isn't it odd how many of the plasticized bodies appear to be young and
in very good health? Isn't it also odd that they all would have died
of natural causes? For any of them that did give consent -- I wonder
how many of them might have been coerced or extorted.
The exhibit is starting in my metro area (Kansas City) within the next
couple of weeks. I would like to protest/picket the opening of the
exhibit and attempt to persuade as many as possible to not attend the
February 16, 2008
I recently saw my first ad on t.v. touting this exhibit, I thought it
was an extremely talented and skilled artisan that had crafted these
images from man-made materials. After a few times seeing the same ad, I
realized how very wrong I was. The sheer fact that human bodies are
desecrated in the name of art, displayed to the public for a hefty
viewing fee, and provided by corporations that are publicly traded
sickens me to my very core. The horrors that mankind has inflicted on
itself over centuries still has taught us no lesson whatsoever.
Although we presume we are far more enlightened than the prior
generation, we seem to slip deeper into an incredible sense of
desensitization. Had some of our most vicious and genocidal killers
such as Pol Pot, Adolph Hitler, Idi Amin or Joesph Stalin come up with
such a venture, the international community would cry out and demand an
immediate inquiry. If it is so easy for us now to accept that scores of
these bodies are on display, with little verification of their origins
or proper certification, what makes us think we will even flinch 15
years down the road when the next twisted and insidious crime against
human dignity rears its ugly head? Lest we forget, history repeats
Andrea Lea Parrish
February 16, 2008
won't go into details, but THIS IS JUST WRONG. This "exhibit" is
currently in my city, but I WILL NOT go view it. It's not like going to
the park or the zoo. These are human bodies. REAL humans. Just the
thought of it gives me nightmares, and why are all those bodies young,
healthy "specimens"? Who are they? Why did they die? Political
prisoners? They can't be just "throw away street people" (as if anyone
could be thrown away) Could that happen to me or one of my loved ones?
That gives my the shudders. This should be outlawed.
November 16, 2008
20-20 show last night exposed the tissue of lies that I expected. The
bodies are being called Plastic models- a lie, and sent in without
restrictions. Lies has been used to cover up human rights abuses..I
would expect that even Von Hagen, for all his tears, is guilty of false
verification, and permission. This "industry" is an abomination,
morally, ethically, spiritually and every other which way. After the
20-20 piece, how can Premier buy bodies from china? He said if it was
established that they were executed prisioners he would stop doing
business with them
February 16, 2008
Thank you for bringing this to my attention! As you know, I have always
been suspicious of dead bodies from China, especially when there's money
involved, and again and again our suspicions turn out to be justified. I
will make sure people in the Netherlands will hear about this. Keep up
the good work.
February 16, 2008
I did not see the story on 20/20 but after reading some excerpts I have
one brief note (and if I can spy the actual full story I'm sure I'll
have more thoughts).
Von Hagens feigns distress over the
seemingly bullet riddled "specimens" he received from China and claims
that he no longer deals in Chinese supplied (read: tortured prisoner)
bodies. But if we are to believe Von Hagens when he says that Chinese
supplied bodies are no longer supplied for that reason the question
arises, why was it not the 2006 Chinese Law prohibiting the sale of
Chinese bodies that stopped Von Hagens? Why was he seemingly
comfortable dealing in the black market chinese body trade prior to
when the quality of his "product" diminished? Good questions for Mr.
Von Hagens, perhaps he can take a moment away from his disingenuous
campaign of science and exploration, his calls for human rights and
greater disclosure on just who it is encased in plastic mounted like
some soulless kill (yes Mr. Von Hagens, they were a who, a they, a him
and a her, mother, father, daughter, son, lover, friend, an actual
person.) and answer those questions.
Thank you as always for keeping us all informed, keep up the good work Aaron.
nice of the mainstream media to shed some light on an issue you have
championed for nearly 2 years. The bravest protest is the protest of
one my friend, but it sure must feel nice to have company.
November 17, 2007
I know I have added
but I still find it unbelievable that in the
year 2007 we still cannot harvest human organs from death row convicts
who even wish to donate their organs but can harvest human corpses for
our entertainment. Very, very sad.
Oct 23, 2007
I find it ironic that in a country that still is
stem cell research that we find it "educational" to see this exhibit.
Have we not learned from the recent disregard for the safety in China
concerning lead paint that imports from China are not what they say
that they are? When the organizers of this event sign their name on the
dotted line to donate their bodies so that they can be posed and
displayed then maybe I will see it. Until that happens there is nothing
educational to be seen, No difference between this exhibit and seeing a
hit and run. Human morbid curiousity. Nothing less.
August 6, 2007
The body is not an alienable property
My greatest concern is that our body is not our property, in the sens of alienable, and at our disposal. ...
You can paint your car in another colour or sell it to someone, within
the appropriate legal conditions: signing a contract, transferring the
title, etcetera. Such conditions do not apply to your own body. Your
own body, even your own body we could say, is not tradeable, not even
after it has died.
Rob van Gerwen
Rob van Gerwen is a philosopher who lives and teaches in The Netherlands. Read his complete remarks.
July 6, 2007
There are enough concerns, however, that Catholics and Catholic
organizations should seriously consider not attending the Bodies
exhibit until and unless adequate explanations are provided by both
Premier Exhibitions and the science center.
July 2, 2007
A Prayer for the Dead.
Prisoners in life, prisoners in death, we remember the dead, pray for their
forgiveness, and hope for dignity and peace to come to them once and for all.
Jason Tabrys, Montville, NJ
June 24, 2007
Every death, whatever the cause, is that of a human being who wished,
in life, to be treated with respect. If we wish others to respect us,
we must demonstrate respect for the humanity of all people, and of
their memories and bodies after death.
The bodies are coming to Pittsburgh. What message is Pittsburgh sending the world if we welcome them in?
from Elaine Catz's article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Here is the complete text.
June 29, 2007
Did you ever see the classic horror picture starring
Vincent Price - The House of Wax. It's about an artist who lost his
magnificent lifelike wax models in a fire in which the artist himself is
severely burned. The artist gets a whole new display of wax figures by
robbing bodies from the morgue and covering them with wax. Of course he
doesn't tell the secret of his new exhibit of life like wax models. In the
end he is about to kill a woman to keep his secret by preparing to cover her
with wax and make her one of his exhibit. The woman is saved just in time
by the police and Vincent Price as the mad artist falls into his own vat of hot
wax as he is being chased by police.
Today's morality would not be shocked by using actual bodies for visual
exhibit. And the mad artist of the House of Wax would not have to be
secretive to the point of murder to hide the fact that he was using actual
bodies for his art exhibit. He would be considered a genius and an
educator in science and art. Yesterday's spooky and horrific madmen would be in
some sectors of today's society publicly admired respected and supported
Hersn Goldman, Swampscott, MA
June, 28, 2006
The Exhibition is currently at our local mall, The Streets at
Southpoint in Durham. BodyWorlds is in Charlotte. When I originally saw
the article in the Raleigh paper, I responded with this letter to
editor. The research I have done since has confirmed that my original
instincts that this was foul, were correct. My father was a doctor so I
was raised in a very scientifically oriented family. My reaction is not
about squeamishness for the human body, it was horror at the
dehumanization. Of course the human body is beautiful and eople will be
inspired. But does that mean we should be harvesting bodies for that
Are you aware that on the Disney KidzWorld.com
webpage promoting Gunther von Hagens there is a link in the sidebar
asking kids to
consider donating their bodies?
What's next, a playground full of mini cadavers?
My letter to the editor:
looked into the face of that man, stripped of his skin, and my blood
pressure dropped. The visceral horror was only duplicated by seeing
photos of systematically dehumanized Nazi Holocaust victims. This is
what we have become. This is acceptable. Why cry out about soldiers
photographed with skulls of Afghan citizens when this abomination is
education', 'art', 'normal'? Hanging hijacked bodies beautifully on
wires at the mall is a tiny step from lynchings or any other dehumanizing crime.
education pursues understanding of the human body with respect. Here,
the deceit is the happy shopping context with simply more mannequins.
This is not education. This is raw greed using cadavers as pawn. The
exhibited people likely didn't give their permission to be grotesquely
violated for $24 tickets in a circus sideshow. Their government sold
them and Southpoint is profiting. What's next in vogue, Southpoint,
furniture from human bones?
The apathy from our 'decent'
community is terrifying. Don't be surprised by the Durham Lacrosse
case, or the shooting at Virginia Tech. We have become and are creating
a generation so blunted that human connection, dignity and suffering no
Southpoint, goodbye and good riddance.
SarahRedpath Cary, NC
June 21, 2007
personally do not want to see this display of human bodies at the Pittsburgh Carnegie Science
Center. I feel that
it is disrespectful to the humans that are being used for this money making
effort. If my school district even thinks of sending children on a
field trip there, my child will not be included.
June 13, 2007
Despite anything I may have said in the Jewish Journal, I
applaud your effort! If memory serves me correctly, I mentioned
arguments in both directions when I was interviewed, and likely spoke
about a different standard and expectation under Jewish law than under
secular law and mores. From a strictly legal standpoint, I did not see
any argument to forbid a Jew from attending the exhibit; I did say that I
believed it would greatly cheapen the regard we should have for the
specialness of human beings, which is something we as Jews should be
sensitive to in particular.
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein Sydney M Irmas Adjunct Chair,
Jewish Law and Ethics, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
This comment refers to an article
in the Jewish Journal.
May 8=9, 2007
The only thing children or adults will really learn
is that we are very short on respect for human life be it in this life or in the here after.
Mary Nelson Madison, Wisconson
May 8, 2007
exhibit may be coming to the Milwaukee public
I pray that it does not! My tears are for all those who can no longer speak
for themselves or their loved ones. This is a crime against world humanity and
life giving creation. There is no honor to viewing this exhibit.
Jan Lillie, Brookfield, Wisconsin
May 4, 2007
In 1933 Warner Bros.
produced a film entitled "The Mystery Of The Wax Museum". The plot
involved a deranged artist who stole the bodies of John and Jane Doe's
, encased them in wax, and then exhibited them in various poses in a
museum. In spite of its medical pretensions, the idea of this exhibit
is just as horrifying. It is nothing more than man's inhumanity to man
for profit. I have not seen the exhibit nor do I care to.
family was shocked by the exhibit of these people at the local MOSI
(Museum of Science and Industry). We had been members of that museum
for much of the past 15 years. As we considered rejoining during the
recent spring break, one of our adult children sighed in disagreement,
"We may as well join the mortuary." Another teen clearly indicated that
to rejoin would violate his conscience.
we did not rejoin. The MOSI Board decided last year to ignore the
medical board which by state statute had the authority to stop the
showing. Neither our governor, our state reps, state senators chose to
stop it. Even more shocking, Christians we know were eager to take
their children to this "educational" exhibit, failing to comprehend.
Whenever a human rights issue would arise in the news, we would say to
each other, "Well, at least if a person disagrees with their government
in America, he doesn't have to worry (yet) about becoming an exhibit at
We strongly support and appreciate your struggle to stop this latest
"entertainment" undermining not only human dignity but respect for
Ellen Stevenson, Dunedin, FL
February 12, 2007
I attended the exhibit of Our Body: the Universe Within in Orlando,
Florida. I have not slept since. As a teacher, I am truly interested in
the workings of the body but as a human… I am disgusted by this
Who were these people? Different sources give me
different answers. Some say, “Volunteers for medical research and
education”. Others say, “Chinese prisoners.” I beg to differ. This was
a freak show. A combination of a carnival sideshow, Nazi atrocities,
and Hannibal Lector. Yes, the human body is beautiful and incredibly
created. (Yes, I said, “CREATED!”) but these were human beings. They
were someone’s child, someone’s brother or sister, someone’s parent.
Displaying them for monetary gain is unethical. Just because something
can be done, doesn’t mean that it should be. During WWII, the Nazis ran
“experiments” on Jews that they were planning to execute any way. They
wanted to research how the body worked. They poured chemicals into
victims’ eyes to see the body’s response. They amputated hands and
reattached them onto the opposite arms to see if or how they would
function. These experiments were recorded and well documented. These
were considered war atrocities. Tell me how skinning a person and then
displaying them holding a clothes hanger with their skin draped over it
is anything less. If these were willing volunteers, why is this exhibit
not in a medical school instead of lining the pockets of large museums?
Did these people agree to having their bodies displayed in
disrespectful ways? Did these fetuses grant permission for their bodies
to be posed and stared at? Did their parents? What about the woman with
her unborn child? Tell me that her partner and the baby’s father would
want them to be on display in this way. If these were Chinese
prisoners, what were their crimes? Chinese people often are arrested
and disappear for the “crime” of speaking out for human rights. The
Chinese government has a history of disrespecting the rights of their
own citizens. (I remember the live broadcasts from Tiananmen Square in
The bottom line is… this is wrong. It goes against
everything I am as a mother, a teacher, a Christian, a scientist, an
American and a HUMAN BEING !
How can I help to make these crimes against humanity stop?
Pam Nichols New Smyrna Beach, Florida
January 24, 2007
group I educate for made the decision to go and I was researching it
(you show up on google)…I already thought it seemed like a sketchy
idea, but after reading the criticism and realizing it was basically an
involuntary burlesque I was outraged at the cultural inappropriateness
and lack of respect for human life. Thanks for the add
Leah Coakley Tacoma, WA
January 5, 2007
a physician, I oppose this exhibit (I have not been to it, but have
seen plenty of photos of it in the press). While there is undoubtedly
some educational value to the audience to see the wonders of the human
body, the bizarre nature of the cadavers' poses transforms the viewer
into a voyeur. What could possibly be the scientific or eductional
purpose of displaying the corpse of a small child riding on the
shoulders of the corpse of an adult, as if having an outing at the park?
my opinion, the display crosses the line from informative exhibit to
pornography or freak show. I would feel this way even if all the bodies
were freely donated with informed consent. (But I doubt any of us would
consent to having our own body displayed post-mortem in this perverse
In medicine, both when dissecting cadavers in
medical school and when performing procedures or surgery on live
patients, care is taken to drape the body so only the parts of interest
are exposed. This is done to objectify the body, thus minimizing the
natural strong human emotional response to it which would interfere
with a rational, disinterested and scientific approach to anatomy.
because a thing can be done, doesn't mean it should be done. Accurate
scientific data about hypothermia can be obtained by throwing living
human subjects into pools of cold water of varying temperatures, and
monitoring their EKGs until their hearts fibrillate and they die. This
was in fact done in Europe 65 years ago by the third reich. In my
opinion these circus-like displays of the bodies of once-living human
individuals is worthy of a Dr. Mengele.
Steven Adler, MD Seattle, WA
Although Dr. Adler was writing about the Seattle exhibit, he has
confirmed what may be obvious: his remarks apply to all such exhibits.
Op-Ed - 'Bodies' exhibit is unethical
By Dianne Rider
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
I drove into West Seattle, one of the billboards made me throw up a
little, in the back of my throat. Maybe you've seen it? It's the one
for Bodies, the Exhibition and it flaunts having "real human bodies."
I didn't almost throw up for the typical reasons because I have been
working with cadavers in my anatomy lab for an entire semester. They
don't bother me one bit. Our cadavers are treated with respect and
dignity and they consented to be there. All of which are concepts that
are very foreign to the cadavers in Bodies. continued...
This article originally appeared in the West Seattle Herald Ballard News-Tribune and is posted with permission of the Herald-News and of the author.
2007 (Strictly speaking the article from Comentary is not a submitted
comment, but I thought it would be of interest. For submitted comments,
please scroll down.)
In the January, 2007 issue of Commentary magazine, Michael Lewis wrote a critique that starts:
earliest infancy, our own bodies, those places of sustenance and
desire, concern us intimately; nor can we look upon the body of any
other person with neutral eyes. For every human body is a variant of
our own, a commentary upon it, even—in the case of a corpse—a
foretelling of its destiny.
the circumstances, it is hardly surprising that Body Worlds, a trio of
anatomical exhibitions that have been touring North America for nearly
two years, has aroused so much fascination."
The complete article including a devastating conclusion continues...
This article originally appeared in the West Seattle Herald Ballard News-Tribune and is posted with permission of the Herald-News and of the author.
December 19, 2006
am the author of the book "Genocide and Medical Experiments of the Nazi
Holocaust". I also teach medical ethics classes. I have several
problems with the Bodies exhibit. First of all I have been an
investigator for more than 20 years working on thousands of death and
injury cases. I have also investigated genocide and torture. I was told
when visiting the exhibit all the specimens died of natural causes. In
my experience "people" who die of "natural causes" are more often than
not withered, with large loss of tissue, bone and soft tissue
degeneration, etc. The bodies of the people I seen were lacking many of
the signs of degeneration and disease. Also most all were fairly young
judging by the ware and tear to there exposed joints, teeth and tissue.
If they told me these were accident or traumatic deaths, it would be
easer to believe. I am very specious as the causes of death.
bodies decompose fast, nerves, brain, visceral tissue become dehydrated
in just a few hours. Once again signs of decomposition are absent.
proof such as death certificates and consent by the donors should be
available for inspection. The validity of such should be verified by
the international human rights community.
It would be ok with me
if the donor understood and consented to display and research of their
bodies. I do think the dissection work is the best I have ever seen. It
rivals the descriptions and photos I have of Joseph Mangle's work in
Nazi Germany. He was able to select his specimens (victims) and plan
the death to make best use of the fresh tissue.
Dr. Ian Shepherd MSD
am a freshman in high school studying biology at ... School in [South
Florida]. For a feild trip, my biology professor is planning to take us
to the BODIES exhibit at Sunset place. When I heard this I was
appalled! I had read in the newspaper about the controversial exhibit,
and the thought of paying to see someone's remains taken illegally and
preserved for eternity was not a thought i enjoyed. When I told my
professor and classmates about my concerns, all I got was "shut up" and
"If you think it's unethical, don't go." To say the least, I won't be
going, but I would like to make my voice heard and get the point across
that the preservation of these bodies, and selling tickets for profits,
is unethical, inhuman, and a disgrace to the deceased. Do you know
where I can find a protest group in my area?
Thank you for your help
Thomas Hibbs: Shocking display relies on society's morbid voyeurism
10:50 AM CST on Sunday, December 17, 2006
medieval Italian poet Dante creates a macabre vision of twisted bodies,
divided and rent asunder, as a manifestation in the flesh of the
deforming consequences of sin. In Body Worlds, a new exhibit at the
Dallas Museum of Natural Science, the German scientist Gunther von
Hagens has discovered a new means of providing anatomy lessons to the
multitudes – cuts, slices and dissections of "real" human bodies,
preserved through a process called plastination.
left on viewers will likely be as memorable as Dante's imaginative
journey among the dead. The question is whether it has substantive
educational value – or is merely feeding our inordinate taste for the
macabre while masquerading as science education...
The problem with
death in our culture is not that we have taboos about it, but that we
lack a rich language for articulating the experience and its meaning.
It's hard to see how Body Worlds will help solve that problem.
Indeed, what is on display is not the mystery of death, but the
reduction of bodies to inert plasticized parts displayed for viewers –
a pornography of the dead human body.
Here is the complete article.
Hibbs, Ph.D., is a philosopher and Distinguished Professor of Ethics
and Culture at Baylor University. Copyright 2006, by Thomas Hibbs. This
originally appeared in the Dallas Morning News.
November 21, 2006
say I'm appalled and sickened by this sad excuse for "scientific
education" is an understatement. I would like to see this show
(scheduled to begin in January at the Arizona Science Center) canceled.
What I want to know is: Whom, or what groups, should I contact
in the Phoenix, AZ area that has clout? How is the best way to go about
it? Do you, or any of the other people who have tried to fight this
exhibit have other ideas or suggestions I might try?
This is what got me started on my mission --
opened yesterday's East Valley Tribune newspaper (serving Chandler,
Mesa, Scottsdale, and Tempe, Arizona, mainly) around noon before
preparing lunch. The graphic image, large, and centered on the front
page killed my appetite and changed my plans for the next 3 - 4 hours.
was a skinned male figure (one could tell it was a male because of the
two gonads still attached to his fleshless anatomy & displayed at
the top of the grisly form) doing a "skateboard handstand." Nothing but
muscles, some torn, and sinews were shown...except for the face, which
I'm hoping was plastic...and not the plastinated face of the deceased
I'm not an ultraconservative person. I'm 66, widowed,
have raised 4 children and have 9 grandchildren, and work part-time as
a private duty nurse for a man with quadriplegia, so I see male
genitalia every single working day. I'm no prude. But I'm also the
daughter of a mortician...and learned about the dignity of the human
body early in life. I also learned "The end doesn't justify the means."
lack of respect and dignity given these dead pawns in this exhibit
saddens, sickens, and revolts me. If the public can get OJ's new "book"
and "FOX" program canceled, perhaps there's still hope the same thing
can happen to this macabre side show.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
K. M. de Vos Mesa, AZ
December 6, 2006
disagree with the comments made by some members . I myself have seen
the exhibit 3 times in the last 3 weeks. Once with my 15 yr old
daughter and 2 times with nursing students. I don't feel it is
offensive. I feel that this information is a wonderful learning
experience about the human body. I don't think that it was done
disgraceful or untasteful at all. I do though agree on a few things.
The cost was outrageous and my understanding by talking to the Bostom
Museum was that the Hagen's group set the prices. This bothers me
because indeed this was a money maker to pay off the year long process
it takes for each plastination. I would agree about the person who
stated seeing full scenes on buses on the way to work my be very
disturbing to some. The healthcare profession works all the time with
people and this was awesome to see what actually is under all those
feet of skin. I also agree that is a persons decision to go or not to
go to the exhibit. Would you read a book that is disturbing if you new
that ahead of time? Would you intentionally hang out in a place that
gives you the heebie geebies before you got there? It is really all a
mind game. Death is nothing to be grossed out about - it happens for a
reason. All persons names were protected in this exhibit.
Susan Lewis, Manchester,NH
October 16, 2006
response to the PhD student in Neuroscience who asked that others stop
"imposing their personal moralities on others, I would ask "what about
the moralities of the people who are now on display for money?" Haven't
the Bodies Exhibit organizers imposed THEIR own moralities on these
un-consenting individuals - and done it for profit? Even if the all the
bodies - which are from a country known for relieving itself of human
rights laws and murdering its own citizens for simply voicing differing
opinions - are of the unclaimed dead, they are still NOT being used for
the advancement of science as laws allowing their use intend. They are
being used for considerable profit. Those who are attending medical
school have access to cadavers as part of their curriculum; they do not
need, as a means to learn, to contribute to profit through disrespect
for the lives of others. I would hope a PhD student would have a m ore
systemic world understanding than the one who has claimed this exhibit
is a simple "go or don't go" situation. The human rights issues run
much deeper than that.
LeAnne Nelson, Seattle
October 17, 2006
I should have read the student's letter more thoroughly I suppose, to
discern more details, but I was so taken aback by the stance in the
intro. I find I am also repulsed as I walk to work in Downtown Seattle
and am passed by metro buses with full size ads on their sides showing
skinned bodies in various real-life-action poses. The level of
disrespect makes me think of the atrocities with human flesh committed
in Nazi concentration camps. I always look away from those huge color
ads as they "drive" by.
LeAnne Nelson, Seattle, WA
ROSENBERG: Dissecting the Body Worlds 2 exhibit one cadaver at a time
sister was disgusted, my father appalled, my brother horrified, my
mother numbed. I suppose you could say I was unsettled. But the whole
thing just seemed sort of wrong.
A hundred dead bodies on
display. I guess it's nothing we haven't seen before on TV war coverage
or in action movies, but this was different. This was somehow less
respectful to human life.
Now, I won't tell you whether or not
you should go see Body Worlds 2 at the Boston Museum of Science, but
I'll strongly urge you against it.
An excerpt from a column by Ethan Rosenberg, a student at Boston University in the Daily Free Press, an indepedent student newspaper. Here is the complete column.
you for your feedback and for sharing in this concern. I find the
success of cadaver shows a troubling sign of the times in which we live.
you know that in Europe von Hagens promoted Body Worlds as "art".
Colleges of Surgeons and Physicians, the German Pathological Society
(as well as most reputable media outlets and the churches) distanced
themselves from Body Worlds because of its violation of their
professional ethics. The University of Heidelberg (von Hagens former
employer) initiated legal action against von Hagens, in part to
disassociate itself from von Hagens and from Body Worlds. In North
America von Hagens chose a different marketing strategy, apparently it
is all about science and health education. And since we North Americans
are health nuts and have elavated science to a position beyond
questioning we flock in droves and there is little opposition. But
there is only a very thin veneer of science, and there is nothing that
cannot be learned from textbooks or computer models. As one commentator
noted, medical students don't pose their dead like Barbies. They don't
sign them either.
It is big money, museums pursue box office success
and grant us absolution for breaking the last taboo of our society when
we use the dead to be awed, educated, or amused.
Pastor Christoph Reiners Abbotsfords, BC
October 23, 2006
just found out about this exhibit at the Tropicana casino in Las Vegas.
I think this is absolute evidence of this exhibits exploitation of the
human body for money, and Las Vegas freak show entertainment purposes
Diana Turner Las Vegas, Nevada
October 23, 2006
I believe this to be a true barbaric act of which I am ashamed the U.S. has any part.
believe this exhibit is a testimony that mankind is still very unaware
of what art is. In little stores all over the southwest there are
plastic incased tarantulas and oddities but nowhere is it stated that
they are art. An art museum is no place for this exhibit. I believe it
is illegal to treat bodies this way in this country and that is why
these come from China. I also believe this is testimony to the farming
of organs that is also done in china and elsewhere. I believe this is a
punishment by china to the dissidents of it's own county that not only
will they lose their liberty in this life but forfeit there dignity in
their death like the hanging dead in times past to frighten the people
who would speak out against a dictator from one country or another.
I believe these bodies are a testimony of deep tyranny like the
accumulated skulls of the beige yon rug-he. These are a testimony of a
mascara above ground in the light for the world to see. If the argument
is that these bodies where donated for this purpose I believe in my
heart that is a bold faced lie. If any poor deranged person thinks this
is the way they should treat themselves upon death than we in kindness
should save them from themselves for the sake of their mothers fathers
their children and our children this image is not one easily rubbed
out. How can these children these students not lose faith in all of us
for holding there had to an atrocity. Just the thought of my daughters
body being used this way infuriates me and I could not be held
responsible for what I would do to prevent this debasement of her body
even thought I recently saw her id and it is stamped with donor in a
red circle. If the body needs to be studied there are much simpler
easier ways to help in the pursuit of that endeavor. I do not think the
public can lay any claim to a need or a right to see such a sick
voyeuristic show. I appreciate your keeping me in touch with this issue
though it makes me very sad.
Mary Nelson Madison, Wisconsin
October 21, 2006
Ginsburg, Tonight I saw an ad on t.v. for the Museum of Science
exhibition, and could not believe my ears! (I had not known of this
before.) I thought that I had heard that these were real human bodies
in poses exhibited for gain at the Science Museum. I decided to Google
the words which I had heard (to put my mind at rest) only to find out
that the reality was worse than I had imagined!
I believe that
some of these bodies (if not all of them) are executed people from
China. Even if they are not, to grotesquely (or not) exhibit human
bodies for gain, I believe is wrong, and is a step on the slippery
slope of dehumanization. I agree with many of the well thought out
comments against these exhibitions which are on your website. I am
appalled! I am horrified!
I want to thank you for your courage and sense of duty and ethics. I wish that there were more citizens like you!
J Carter, Boston, MA
specimens, what’s the big deal? *They* don’t care, *they* never had the
chance to “opt out” of the mandatory donation process. *They* were
never valuable, beautiful human individuals, each with a spark of the
divine, each with a collection of individual experiences, loves, hates,
passions, favorite foods, favorite articles of clothing, sons,
daughters, mothers, fathers. They’re simply objects, presented here for
your edification, so step right up! Enjoy the show!
I don’t know
if it’ll do a lick of good for the families of these unclaimed victims
of life, the universe and everything, or for the spirits of the dead
individuals who may or may not be wandering the halls of all of those
involved in this atrocious “exhibition,” but those nameless individuals
will be in my prayers. Please consider adding them to yours, as well.
Brother Jeremy Puma. Seattle, WA Read his complete blog.
October 11, 2006
Hi Aaron Ginsburg
I did share live forum on CBC radio regarding the exhibit of bodies at
the Science World. In fact I was the only one who opposed to it.
Although Rabbi David Mavassair also somewhat agreed with me. According
to Sikh religion the human body is considered to be sacred "like a
temple" in which the soul, a departed part of the Super Soul "Almighty
Creator - God" dwels. We must
learn to respect and admire each other
while we are alive. There is nothing to admire about a dead body and
find miracles of the creator through it. The right time to admire human
beings are when they are alive. Thats is why the Sikhs cremate the dead
body and do not preserve it for exhibition purposes. If someone wants
to donate his/her deceased body for scientific and research purposes it
may be fine but there is no need to exhibit such donated bodies. This
is my opinion and I tried to express it well to the best of my ability
and knowledge on the CBC program
Best wishes and Regards,
Mota Singh Jheeta Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
October 5, 2006
am upset that P.E. classes in my school are going to the exhibit. I
think that my school shouldn’t go to this exhibit. I find the lack of
permission from the people before they died, morally reprehensible. I
support your cause fully.
A Seattle Student age 15 ___________________________________________
September 29, 2006
Body Worlds is anatomical pornography
so nice to know that I'm not alone in thinking that it's wrong to put
dead bodies on public display for personal gain. However, Mr. Ginsberg,
I feel compelled to do you one better and say that Body Worlds is
nothing short of pornographic.
You see, pornography appeals to
people's basest instincts; by using genuine dead human bodies, Body
Worlds is appealing to people's basest instincts--or, as I like to
think of it, our inner porn nuts. It is my belief that people aren't
flocking to this kind of exhibit to learn about the human body as they
are to satisfy some voyeuristic urges.
The Body Worlds--or, as I
like to call it, Deathsploitation Theatre--exhibit is being hosted by
Vancouver's Telus World of Science from now until January. I have no
plans to see it, as I don't believe in supporting exploitation in any
way. As you, Mr. Ginsberg, probably know by now, the Vancouver Courier
has run a front-page story about the exhibit, and the editor of a
Vancouver independent newspaper called The Westender sang its praises
in one of the paper's recent editorials.
It's just a shame that capitalism run amok has come to putting cadavers on public display for personal profit.
A. M. Desilets, Vancouver, BC
September 29, 2006
My sister lives in Rhode Island and refused to allow her son to go on a
field trip with his school to see the exhibit. She told me about it and
I was appalled that she was the only parent who had a problem with this
display. I was doing my own research to see if others are being vocal
about von Hagens' twisted method for becoming rich. That's how I came
across your site. I am really saddened that our culture has changed so
dramatically that this type of activity is condoned. I just don't get
it-how could anyone want to see someone who has been skinned? How could
we possibly be so de-sensitized that this is acceptable to so many in
the name of science? Good luck with the petition-I hope the whole show
is closed down for good.
Kathi Coletta, Oakland, NJ
September 25, 2006
important to note that the exhibit in Seattle is not of bodies of
people who gave consent for their remains to be put on view. Premiere
Exhibitions does not state that they have individual permissions; they
state that such are not necessary because they are not legally required
by the Chinese.
The Chinese corpses used in the Seattle exhibit
are of Chinese who died unidentified or indigent. Their bodies were not
claimed for burial by anyone who cared. They were never given the
opportunity to say "no", merely because they were poor, or homeless, or
mentally ill, or prisoners.
The Chinese government makes money
leasing their bodies to the US for entertainment purposes. Premier
Exhibits is a for-profit publicly traded corporation. If education is
the goal, they are doing a good job of teaching the world: "We can buy
you. You are human only in proportion to your wealth. We don't care
about your religion. We don't have to."
Maryanne K. Snyder Seattle, Washington
September 21, 2006
Dear Mr. Ginsburg,
you for your encouragement as well as the link to your website. If I my
ask, how did you find my article (our website is relatively new)?
I salute you as well and admire your persistence even after the show has left Boston.
you know, my concerns are essetially twofold: a) human rights, b) human
dignity. As a Christian I am guided by Genesis 1:26-27 as well as 1
Corinthians 6:19 (Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the
Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not
your own?". I am glad we share the conviction that our creatureliness
is no accident.
While anatomically the show may be very
interesting I believe that we are really presented with a materialist
and nihilist world view that says that all we are is a cut of meat.
What actually worries me more than Dr. von Hagens and his show is the
fact that we appear to be such a narcissistic culture that we think it
is OK to use the dead for art, education, or entertainment (whatever it
happens to be labeled at the time), and we don’t think twice. We really
seem to be consumers before we are anything else.
I will paste an article
below I had in our local paper on Tuesday (and which, unfortunately,
doesn't seem to keep too many people from going. The principal at my
son's school told me that he had read it and did not have an answer for
me. But it all seems to be on a purely intellectual level, we enjoy a
good argument for the intellectual pleasure it brings. No further
J. Christoph Reiners, pastor
Pastor Reiners wrote a moving article in The Abbotsford News. ___________________________________________
September 20, 2006
wish people would stop trying to impose their personal moralities on
the public as a whole. To repeat a common theme: If you are offended do
not go to see the exhibit, but do not have the arrogance to make what
my choice and my decision for me. I am a PhD student in
Neuroscience and have spent much time learning my craft which has
included dissections. There is no pseudoscience about this exhibit, it
is what it is, anatomical preperations meant to interest and educate,
and if a little sensationalism gets people interested in Science then
great. It was only about 200 years ago that it was illegal for medical
doctors to learn about the human body via dissections and medicine
sorely suffered because of misguided morality. Anyone who has actually
dissected a specimin of any kind knows how much reality differs from a
model. Would you want to go to a surgeon who had no idea what an actual
human chest looked like on a real human, would you trust yourself to
someone who has only studied on a model or on a dog... I doubt it.
Knowledge is not given, it is learned and earned. You mention dignity
after death but I argue what is more dignified, educating
increasing knowledge or being eaten by worms? These people have made a
choice to willingly donate themselves for science, it is their choice,
not yours to make. I hope that you and or any member of your family
never needs to have a transplant using donated tissue or organs,
because it seems that if you had your way that would also be considered
undignified and immoral.
University of Massachusetts/Amherst ______________________________________________
September 8, 2006
for your phone call just now. You are right that each person can make a
difference, and that each person matters, even when they have died. We
are doing a service to all by asking questions about the ethical
grounds of Body Worlds.
My concern is for where this process of
"plasticization" will take us in the future. Will this process be
available to all who can afford it for all who desire it? If a husband
cherishes his wife, and if she consents to the process, will he then
plasticize her body and place it in the home? What would become of
these preserved bodies 25, 50, 75 years later, when they are no longer
That leads me to my next concern: What is going to
become of these specific bodies once the exhibit no longer draws
spectators? Will they be incinerated at the dump? Will they be returned
to their families for burial? What is actually planned?
appreciate your serving as the central figure for this discussion at
the present. Let's hope many other voices join in to stop this
Meg Howard Boston, Ma
September 6, 2006
Thank you for your message. I am glad someone is taking this seriously. If my article is of use to you, please do use it.
All the best and shanna tova.
Rabbi Reuven Hammer London, England
Rabbi Reuven Hammer recently wrote an article for The Jerusalem Post titled “The dignity of the dead.”
about Body Worlds and similar exhibits. He is the head of the
Rabbinical Court of the Masorti Movement and the Rabbinical Assembly of
Israel and is currently serving as the Rabbi at the New London
Synagogue in London, England. The complete article is here. Excerpts follow:
does Judaism have to say about all of this? The answer is clear. On the
one hand Judaism forbids doing anything to destroy the body, such as
cremation. On the other it forbids doing anything to preserve it. There
is simple dignity in this position. This is what we are and this is
what we will become. Treat the human frame with dignity, remembering
that it housed a human being and that the body is nothing to be ashamed
of. Indeed the Torah considers the body to be the image of God (Genesis
1:27), and there is every likelihood that originally this belief was a
The Jewish attitude toward the body is demonstrated beautifully in the blessing recited each morning known as asher yatzar:
are You, who fashioned the human being with wisdom, creating openings
and organs; if one should be open or closed it would be impossible to
exist. Blessed are You, healer of all flesh who does wondrously.
in Berakhot 60b, this blessing recognizes the body as a divine
creation, not to be despised or disdained. The sages recognized the
marvel of the construction of our physical form and used this to
demonstrate the miracle of human existence. Nor is it accidental that
the very next blessing speaks of the soul and describes it as pure.
Both body and soul, the physical and the non-physical parts of human
beings, are equally the creation of God and deserving of honor and
The dead must be treated with dignity and not used for
display or entertainment. The body must be returned to the earth at the
earliest possible moment. Deuteronomy 21:23 specifies that a criminal
who has been executed must be given a burial that same day and not lie
unburied overnight "for that is an affront to God."
(end of excerpt)
September 2, 2006
ventured to the Bodies: Exhibition in New York City's South Street
Seaport the other day an exhibition similar to the Von Hagen Body
Worlds displays, and I felt that the comparisons allowed for my
thoughts on this topic. I arrived at Bodies: The Exhibition, intrigued,
and curious about what exactly this exhibit was. After carefully going
through the exhibit I must say that it struck me as slightly craven,
and perhaps unintentionally vulgar, lacking in morality and humanity.
These were people, who felt love, and pain, people with souls, with
memories, and names, and yet there is no testament to that, there is no
mention of lives that were lived, and whether that is due to privacy
laws, or the subjects desire, it still strikes me as a rather shallow
display on human beings to be totally devoid of that which is the
essence of us. We are not purely mechanical devices, nuts and bolts,
pieces that have functions, we are organic, we are spiritual, we are
filled with a light that can not be displayed, but can at the very
least be referred to. Honestly I felt that the plastination process was
spoken of with more reverence than the humans encased within it.
the exhibition I focused my thoughts, and gathered my opinions,
speaking with one of the very helpful people at the information desk
not ten feet from the gift shop, I tried to secure as many facts as I
could, a pursuit that continued after I left leading me online, leading
me here and elsewhere. I sat for a moment and reflected with my
friends, and came to the startling conclusion that while this serves an
educational purpose, it tours as a commercial venture, admitting
students, gawkers, professionals, Children, and anyone else who can
pony up the hefty admission fee, it tours as a clinical and antiseptic
display of slick science seemingly without a hint that this loose
collection of limbs and other assorted body parts once held blood, and
dreams, and a want to be treated with respect in death as in life. It
is quite possible that these people never envisioned a restless
afterlife, propped up in air conditioned loft spaces posed in various
degrees of athletic activity that range from throwing a baseball, to
conducting a symphony, to giving a big thumbs up. Fake plastic smiles
formed into fake plastic faces, an innovative polymer encasing nature's
natural evaporation of that which remains. Fingers point, children to
young to appreciate the gravity of what they are seeing laugh and
giggle, and these sarcophaguses stand frozen, jailed. They are gone
now, yes, devoid of feelings and emotions, but they should not be left
without a sense of honor.
Mystery clouds that honor as much as
anything else, “donated” bodies culled from the abandoned in a Chinese
medical facility, a majority of men with very few females, brings
pause, while whispers of past indiscretions relating to the this
process involving bullet riddled bodies, and executed prisoners coupled
with the realities of China's human rights violations gives out right
fear. Were the “donated” informed of their dual role as learning tools
and showpieces? Were there families? And exactly what right does this
company, or a government that let it happen have to take abandoned
bodies and utilize them in any way that they see fit? No matter their
station, their lifestyle, or their economic status, these were human
beings that now pose with footballs to the awe, delight, and intrigue
of others, stuffed from the outside in and they deserved a choice, an
outright explanation of what this journey would be for their forms,
denying someone of that is nothing short of a desecration.
Jason Tabrys Montville, NJ
September 2, 2006
you for creating this forum, I must say as time fills in behind the
memory of seeing those poor people I feel genuine regret at the fact
that these were thoughts that had to be reached through reflection, you
wish it was instinctual, and yet it was not, I don't think an honest
sense of shock, and sadness until leaving the exhibit, perhaps in part
because while knowing that these were human beings, the process allows
you to suspend that, allows you to view them as if they are not real,
perhaps intentionally to withdraw any sense of fear, or disgust from a
witness. Clearly they are not only "playing" with dead bodies, but with
our psyches. I don't know if you read the articles in Discover on the
topic, but to hear Von Hagen speak with the goal of accomplishing dual
superstardom in the world of science and in art worries me, what gives
him the right to use these bodies as canvas, as paint? The greatest
gift of man is not an unending field of possibilities, it is his
ability to exercise discretion, to limit his span, and do not just what
can be done, but instead what should be done, I only wish Von Hagen had
that capability, those who do not can veer off into madness, and that
may be what were seeing.
Jason Tabrys Montville, NJ
P.s.: If in anyway I can help further this cause let me know
Friday, September 1, 2006 - Updated: 12:08 AmEST Judaism offended
By Hersn Goldman/ Letters To the Editor of the Boston Herald
cadavers may be important to medical students for the advancement of
treating patients. But, in my opinion, the Museum of Science’s display
of dead people to the public provides an entertainment frowned upon by
traditional Judaism (“Where are the protesters at Body Worlds?” Aug.
At Jewish funerals, the deceased is generally buried within
24 hours of death. This tradition of not delaying burial is derived
from the book of Deuteronomy:
“If a man will have committed a sin
whose judgment is death, and he shall be put to death, and you shall
hang him on a tree. His body shall not remain on the tree, rather you
shall bury him that day, for a hanging person is an insult to G-d.”
The medieval rabbi Rashi explains the verse
saying that the spectacle of the unburied corpse is an insult to G-d
because a person is created “in the image of G-d.”
Hersn Goldman, Swampscott.,Ma
August 9, 2006
I, however, actually have seen the exhibit, and although it is not for everyone, it was fascinating for me.
If you don’t like something that is shoved in your face, get angry, and I will help you push it away.
This is a PAID exhibit, not free, so to see this exhibit you need to make a conscious decision as an adult to see it.
applaud your efforts to warn people that this is not the type of
exhibit you may want to take your children to, or if you are queasy,
but I do not agree with your efforts to stop the exhibit.
Keep up the good writing and the awareness,
Tom Catyb Tewksbury, MA
July 29, 2006 While reading Joanna Weiss's article in the Globe (July29) on this exhibit,
could not help but feel the lack of respect for the dead because of
what this "artist" has done. When I first heard this exhibit was coming
to Boston, it interested me because I thought certain that the cadavers
would be synthetic. Now I have mixed emotions about seeing it. This is
all about money and notoriety. It would not surprise me if this exhibit
were forced to close.
Joanne Wheeler Canton, MA
exhibit is a horrible exploitation of the people who have died.
Furthermore, it will draw out the pathological people in our midst who
are lonely and isolated and ill.
Please be responsible and stop or curtail this exhibit.
good to protest no matter what the result. It's not wasted time.
Sometimes I think the world has gone insane. I see things like this
(protest-ed.) and I think there's hope for civilization.
Thank you for doing this. I mean that.
Martha J. Nugent Yarmouth Port, MA
I have to say is thank God there are others out there who think the
Body Worlds exhibit was wrong. DEAD WRONG! My friends and I went to the
exhibit last week (thinking it was a movie) and I was having a great
time at the beginning criticizing all the models until my friend read a
sign saying that some of them were real!!!! OMG. I didn't know how to
handle myself. The rest of the way through the exhibit my friends and I
couldn't help but speak our minds as we passed by each model while
other people stared. All I could do was ask aloud, "Do you honestly
think these people are at peace?!?!" What is the point? If scientists
have discovered plastination then why are they still pickling, poking
and prodding these people?!?! Allowing the public to criticize them and
stare and be near all the negative energy?!?! I could've read
everything there in my anatomy book!!! It is absolutely unnecessary to
display the bodies and slice them up and charge 10 bucks a person to
come and look at them. Thankfully we have medicine and the people who
are willing to be guinea pigs, but that doesn't mean they should be
skinned and baked into ice-skating and "the thinker" positions. It's
not art; it's an immoral and gruesome way to disrespect the dead.
Sarah, Denver, CO
______________________________________________Dear July 3, 2006
you for making the main thing the main thing... and that is that WE do
not have the right to disrespect the dead EVEN if they consented.
23:4 ... "Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my
dead." I have been weeping over this issue of the dead bodies on
display. It not only disrespects the dead but disrespects God for He
has told us to respect and bury the dead." Those bumper stickers that
read God bless America... well... It is not so much that God should
bless America... But that America should bless God... by following what
He has told us clearly in His Holy Scriptures. Disrespecting the dead
is not only disrespectful of the dead... but kicks against the
knowledge of God... and what God has clearly told us in His word.
America bless God!
Carol Dickinson, Houston, TX
June 9, 2006 Dear Aaron,
I wish you success in this endeavor. Although BodyWorlds has an educational component,
It ultimately degrades the human spirit.
Rav Baruch Frydman-Kohl, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Note: Rabbi Frydman-Kohl has posted an article about this issue.
Aaron: Thank you for calling this outrage to people's attention. You have done a service to human dignity.
Richard Fein Amherst, Ma
June 5,2006 Aaron,
can understand using bodies and body parts to advance medical research.
I cannot understand, flaying a body to display as "art". Couldn't this
have been better, making body casts and then using other materials to
produce the "sculptures"? This way the bodies could be returned to a
grave and the exhibit would be just as interesting.
Noah HorowitzSharon, Ma
Thanks, Aaron for bringing this to my attention. I think it is terrible.
Evelyn Krieger Sharon, Ma
Hakavod Aaron, I agree with you that this traveling exhibit is
sensationalistic and yet another affront to human dignity. If this were
an exhibit of animals the PETA people and all their supporters would be
screaming to the heavens! I applaud you for speaking up for human
When I was a dental student we were taught in gross
anatomy class to have the utmost respect for the deceased people whom
we were learning from. We were taught that they had donated their
bodies in order to teach students and to hopefully, thereby, help their
fellow man. At the end of the class a memorial service was held so that
we could pay our final respects to these people. Beyond anatomy a
proper respect for human dignity was taught in this course. I wonder
what has happened to those same values today.
Mark L. Bailen Sharon, Ma