Saturday, February 09, 2008


A controversial exhibition has provoked fierce criticism from the Bishop of Manchester before it even opens in the North West of England. The Bodyworlds 4 Exhibition is due to open at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry later this month and features preserved corpses (yes corpses!), stripped of their skin in a variety of athletic poses, holding footballs and the like. German organiser and anatomist Gunther Von Hagens who has already caused controversy by performing an autopsy live on tv, uses a technique called plastination to preserve and display human corpses. The Bishop has described the show as a “modern version of a Victorian freak show”, branding it, “a little shop of horrors” and has grave concerns of the show’s effect on both adults and children alike. The Bishop says using the corpses amounts to “body snatching”. However Mr Von Hagens has defended the show, describing it as a unique educational opportunity to see how the body works. Previous Bodyworlds exhibitions have attracted 25 million visitors worldwide, more than any other touring exhibition, making Mr Von Hagens a very rich man. Von Hagens also argues that all the corpses used in the exhibition were part of a donation programme and that people gave their consent for their bodies to be used before their deaths. I personally can’t believe that anyone would consent to have their deceased bodies used in this way, to be put on display in a public gallery for visitors to sneer at. In my opinion, far from being family entertainment, this is nothing but a macabre exhibition of the living dead, exploiting them to make a lot of money.

The shows are banned in Scotland and there is some concern that they undermine public confidence and will discourage people from carrying organ donor cards and donating their bodies to medical research. Organ and body donation in Britain is based on public trust in the medical profession that any tissue donated will be used respectfully and in an appropriate manner. I'm sure when people see an exhibition like this, it will make them think twice about joining the register.

To see what all the fuss is about and form your own opinions, click on the link below to see the BBC's preview of the upcoming show.

Bodyworlds Preview

Although some of the images are quite funny in a freakish kind of way, I personally find them very disturbing too and wouldn’t want myself or any of my deceased relatives to be put on display in this distasteful manner. This is one exhibition I definitely won’t be attending.

Picture:- Courtesy of BBC Website


Sank said...

Hey Naomi,
My sons and I went to see this when it was in St. Paul last year. I didn't find it disturbing. Contrary, some of it was really cool and very educational. There was a section on obesity where they showed the arteries and heart of people with heart disease.. very powerful.

I did see one with a tatoo however, and my thought was "OH NO, Grandpa". but fear not, the one we had here, Bodyworks only uses bodies which were specifically donated to them for this purpose. No organ donars were used in anyway.

Naomi said...

I've heard other people say this Sank but it gives me the jitters just thinking about it. Corpses and all! I have to admit the one holding the guitar is quite funny. But I think some of them are quite creepy too. From what I hear in England, the shows seem to appeal more to men than women, for some strange reason. Even my brother said it looked an interesting show! The only good thing I did see on the show previews was the two pictures of a lung, one from a smoker and the other from a non-smoker, which is a bit of a shock. If it stops people from smoking then that can't be a bad thing.

Naomi said...

P.S. Glad you grandpa is safely resting in peace Sank and didn't get "bodysnatched" (to quote the Bishop of Manchester!) for the show!