Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Carnegie Science Center Adds Bonus Section to “Bodies” Exhibit

PITTSBURGH, Pa, Probably sometime in the future -- “Bodies: The Exhibition” opened to throngs of enraptured crowds at the Carnegie Science Center on Pittsburgh’s North Shore. All the bodies in the exhibit have come from China, a world leader in the development of exciting and innovative new uses for plastics and polymers.

Opening day for the exhibit was set aside exclusively for children under 12 so they could overcome their fear of dead and dismembered bodies while simultaneously learning to appreciate death and disease as the art forms they really are. As enthused as all the little tots were, nothing could prepare them for the special surprise in store courtesy of the good folks at the Science Center.

“We are very pleased to announce the addition of a new Jewish Holocaust section to the exhibit,” said Science Center spokesperson Margaret Flauster. “While all of the bodies in ‘Bodies’ are exquisite specimens, we nonetheless felt a responsibility to be more inclusive by incorporating bodies from other parts of the world as well.”

Squeals of delight could be heard from kids and parents as they perused the Jewish section. An immediate favorite was the pile of severed heads. Docents explained that the intent of the pile was to give form to the concept of “the collective consciousness.”

Not as popular but also drawing a respectable crowd of onlookers was the table of tattooed skins, human skin lampshades, and bars of soap made from human fat. The artistic message here was how useful each and every one of us can and should be to each other.

A two-headed baby was also included in the bonus section but seemed a bit out-of-place with the other pieces. Ms. Flauster admitted that the baby was not Jewish and was not even that old. “We thought it looked kinda cool, so we decided to include it in this section anyway.”

The Carnegie Science Center wishes to remind all its patrons that all the bodies and body parts have been treated with the utmost of respect. While they expect to rake in revenues like never before, they insist the education, enlightenment and enrichment of Pittsburgh …. especially the children of Pittsburgh …. is what inspired them in this amazing endeavor.


Anonymous said...

I think the study of the human body--of anatomy--ultimately helps our scientific understandings. I'm weighing whether or not to donate my remains after I die. I'm leaning towards it.

As far as I know, all bodies used in the exhibit were donated cadavers. The California Science Center did an extensive investigation before contracting with the exhibit and found that to be the case...

Char said...


Its good of you to consider donating your body. No sarcasm here at all.

As for vetting the Chinese Bodies .... the final "source" for all who have investigated is the word of the Chinese govt themselves. There are NO papers on these bodies one way or another.

The Chinese are the same people who have brought us tainted antibiotics, exploding cell phones and car tires, poisoned pet food, toothpaste laced with anti-freeze, lead-tained children's toys. On and on and on.

I believe nothing the Chinese govt says and less of what they "certify". Additionally, their human rights record is not so swell either.

Hal Goodtree said...

Neither death certificates nor consent forms have been produced, despite repeated requests.

Further troubling, the plasticisation factories are located in Dailan, China, a city at the epicenter of black market organ harvesting. Last week, under international pressure, the Chinese government banned the harvesting of organs from executed or deceased prisoners except for immediate family members.

As for the holocaust "exhibit," this is truly chilling:

"Squeals of delight could be heard from kids and parents as they perused the Jewish section. An immediate favorite was the pile of severed heads."

Therein lies the difference between a musuem and a sideshow.

Anonymous said...

The sources that are pushing the no death certificate claim are non-profit organizations who are using this to raise money. Like I said, the California Science Center did an extensive investigation about the exhibit before allowing it there. As did the Carnegie Science Center and UPMC. These review boards do in fact care about whether the bodies were legitimately obtained. And all independent audits show that they were.

I think it's really foolish to believe--as some imply--that the Chinese government would go around murdering their citizens for profit, vivisecting them (means dissecting alive, which there is ZERO evidence of), and then putting them on a road show. It's way too outlandish, and frankly, I think it's just another internet conspiracy theory. And I think the conspiracy theory is, as they usually are, driven out of fear--the fear of death, which is what the exhibit displays.

Hal Goodtree said...


With all due respect, you're misinformed about a couple of things:

1. I've worked with several of the proups protesting the Bodies exhibit. None of them raises money. Not fair to impune their motives in this case.

2. The allegation is not that the Chinese are pulling people off the street and killing them. It's that they "recycle" the bodies of prisoners who have been executed for other crimes.

I'm skeptical, Bag-man. If the documents in question existed, why wouldn't Premier Entertainment (the owner of the Bodies exhibit) produce them. Premier is a $400 million dollar compoany listed on NASDAQ (PRXI).

There's your profit motive.

Char said...


We are talking about China here. Every independent audit conducted by whomever has always ended up in the same spot. And that is unfortunately having to trust and believe the verbal "certifications" of various Chinese officials. They don't have official paperwork trails over there like we do here. If you know of one audit that culminated in something other than some Chinese official "validating" that the bodies were "legally" obtained (whatever "legal" means in China)..... please let me know.

And then ..... legit paperwork or not aside ..... the same "scientific" benefit could be garnered if the bodies were in sedate, simple prone or standing positions. Instead, the Bodies dash for footballs, dance with themselves (skeleton & musculature separated, carry their own skin draped over their shoulders like overcoats.

This is art? This is science? No, this is the height of freak-show sensationalism.

Lastly, while your mother may be proud of you for donating your own body to science (again, no digs here to you at all) .... I doubt she'd be anything less than devastated to see you skinned, flayed, dashing for a ball or carrying your own skin as an overcoat.

From all standpoints, this is monstrous.

Anonymous said...

But being skinned, flayed, etc., IS what happens when people donate their bodies. Doctors cut open organs to see what blood vessels look like, and to see anatomy--anatomy that helps them when they perform surgeries on living patients. Doctors split a cadaver's abdomen in person and open the cadaver's skull so they can study the brain. This knowledge didn't--and still doesn't--magically appear from some computer screen. It takes real bodies to learn about human anatomy and diseases.

I'm not saying that the Chinese government is great. There are surely human rights abuses there. But I don't think this exhibit is one of them.

As for the exhibit, the display of smoker's lungs alone IS science, and is a HUGE public benefit. It'll help to add to the region's collective knowledge. I think it's a good thing. I plan on going. I hope others will too.

Anonymous said...

Also, displaying donation certificates is a violation of US Law (HIPPA), which explains why they aren't waving the consent forms. Major investigations have been conducted. They found that the bodies were bodies that were donated to science. What the protesters of the exhibit are getting all upset about is the fact that they weren't specifically donated to the exhibit. However, when one donates their body to science, one realizes anything could happen to it. (For instance, auto companies use cadavers in crash tests and surgeons "practice" on cadavers at various points in their careers). Finally, this website:

is the root of the vivisect claim, and has a donate button.

Anonymous said...

Finally, sorry for being scatter brained, the investigations found that, in addition to the fact that the bodies used in the exhibit were donors who had given prior consent that no bodies used in the exhibit were former Chinese prisoners or people who were executed by the Chinese government.

Char said...

But Bag,

"But being skinned, flayed, etc., IS what happens when people donate their bodies. Doctors cut open organs to see what blood vessels look like, and to see anatomy--anatomy that helps them when they perform surgeries on living patients."

Agreed. But what does this have to do with non-doctors, non-researchers, paying $20+ bucks a head just to unabashedly gawk.

I hate to bug you by repeating myself .... But the investigations you reference all still have trust in the Chinese government as their core ingredient. And Bag, they just cannot be trusted.

I am not saying they cannot be trusted about anything. I am saying that I now know for sure they've callously and purposefully bamboozled us regarding pet food, children's toys, tainted antibiotics, etc., etc., etc.

I guess it all comes down to one's sensibilties as to what is gruesome and what is not. What is pornography and what is not. What is blatent sensationalism and what is not.

For me .... this is just a high profile freak show. No matter how many billboards I see around town urging me to go because there are "REAL HUMAN BODIES" ..... I will not go. And I urge others to think long and hard before they do. Or worse yet, before they take their small children.

mom de guerre said...

Glover’s own words say it loud and clear. The bodies are not donated. They are unclaimed Chinese bodies, with Chinese paperwork and no regulations in the US.

Columbus Dispatch article:
"They weren’t executed and weren’t prisoners, Glover said. - (oh, well if he said it then it must be true. We have to trust him. There is no proof.)- The bodies were unidentified or unclaimed, he said.”You have to take somebody’s word for it,” Glover said when asked how he can be sure. He said the head of the lab at Dalian is a longtime, trusted friend.

(and fellow millionaire?)

Columbus OH, Channel 10TV -
- Glover admitted that the bodies used in Bodies… The Exhibition were obtained without consent. The bodies, he said, are unclaimed and were acquired from a Chinese medical school. “There was no permission,” Glover said.

NY Times:
“‘I don’t know where the bodies came from,’ said Meng Xianzhi, a spokesman for the (Bejing) university.

San Diego Tribune:
Glover and executives at Premier say their cadavers are unidentified and unclaimed persons who died of natural causes. Obtaining informed consent is impossible, they say, but they do take all possible steps to ensure the bodies are legally and morally obtained.“Company executives traveled to China to find just the right partner,” Glover said. “Dr. Sui Hongjin.. is a very good friend of mine.”

Elaine Catz quit at the Carnegie because of two years of rigorous, professional research that lead her to believe these were indeed bodies of prisoners.

Harry Wu said that during the 19 years he was detained in a work camp in China, he frequently watched medical students help themselves to bodies from the prison cemetery. “These are real things not commodities. We have to know who are they,” the executive director of the LaoGai Research Foundation told AFP.

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying one should take a 5 year old (or even that the Mayor, who acts like a 5 year old, should attend). What I am saying is that it's an interesting exhibit that has lots of educational opportunities. I for one am really looking forward to seeing what Ceryl Wecht described as "loops and loops of bowels." I think that has the opportunity to advance my understanding of my own body, and what went wrong with it a couple years ago.

As for squeamishness, I think that those of us that have been through major medical problems, been hospitalized multiple times, had major surgery to remove an organ or organs, etc, are a little bit less squeamish. We've seen other people with tubes sticking out of their stomachs. We've seen x-rays, CT scans, and endoscopic pictures of our insides. We've had various probes and knives inserted into our bodies. Etc. Four years ago, I might've been grossed out by the exhibit. Not anymore...

mom de guerre said...

Bag, your enthusiastic self absorption is making you miss the point. No one said anything about squeamishness.

Hal Goodtree said...

Sorry to hear about your medical problems, Bag. I can fully understand your desire to understand more about the body. My mom suffered from Alzheimer's for eight years and I constantly tried to understand what was happening, what went wrong.

Yeah, and dissection is as old as Hippocrates, maybe older. Renaissance artists studied cadavers to understand anatomy.

The issue is not one of squeamishness. It's consent. It's human rights.

I agree with Adam Smith that a nation should not interfere in the internal affairs of another sovereign state. Just don't bring that travesty over here.

Maybe Mom de Guerre can tell us if the Bodies exhibit has been exhibited in Shanghai or Guandong??

Medic77 said...

I've seen this exhibition twice, once in NY and now the Pittsburgh location, and I learned more about human anatomy from the several hours in the exhibit than in my 10 years as a medic in the Army.

I'm actually very impressed by the amount of documentation the science center has made available. From what I've seen, they're one of the only places the exhibition has visited that has provided all the information they have on where the bodies come from.

I completely understand the concerns about human rights abuses in China and the possibility that these could be the bodies of prisoners. But none of the bodies I have seen have any signs of trauma (and I have seen the damage caused by gunshots, stabbings and deadly trauma). If your concern is human rights in China, I would think any opposition to the exhibit would better spend their time and energies helping the living people in China.

I've seen a lot of people asking to see the documentation on where the bodies come from - but from what I've read, once a body and the documents are given to a medical school, they legally can't just give out copies of the paperwork. And (according to my sister, a prof at Pitt Med) its the same here in PA. Med students conducting autopsies don't even have access to paperwork giving the names of the bodies they dissect.

I think it all comes down to this - if you want to see this exhibit to learn about anatomy and health issues, go see the exhibit, and you'll probably learn alot. If you have issues with the exhibit, don't go, but don't try and prevent others from learning and bettering themselves.

Hal Goodtree said...

Medic -

1. No one is trying to cut off your learning.
2. interefering in other countries isn't part of my creed. see above.
3. two bodies were removed from the exhibit previously. bullet holes to the head.

This dialogue today has been about information. Now you have it.

I'm done.

Curious in Pittsburgh said...


I was excited that "Bodies ..." was coming to Pittsburgh, but am hesitant now that I've heard these criticisms. But you did make some good arguments and I'd like to learn more. For example, you mentioned that:

"the investigations found that ... no bodies used in the exhibit were former Chinese prisoners or people who were executed by the Chinese government."

I haven't been able to find any articles or investigations saying that. Would you be able to provide a source so that I can continue my research? Everything I've found has been fairly one-sided against "Bodies ..." so far.

Another point that piqued my interest was:

"[the investigations] found that the bodies were bodies that were donated to science."

This confused me a bit because I had read that the displays were imported as art, and thus didn't require any scientific/medical certification.

Thanks for the help!

Robin Kirk said...

The post is sickening, for all the right reasons... People should be outraged about this, yet they are using vacuous arguments about "learning" and "science." A lot of "science" came out of the Holocaust. 24 Nazi doctors were tried for their method at Nuremberg and most found guilty of crimes against humanity. There is a difference -- a gigantic one -- between ethical science and freak show opportunism. Pair the lax Chinese government and a greedy private company, mix in some unclaimed bodies and you have a perfect storm of unethical behavior. People should not go to these exhibits. If you want to learn anatomy, go to a reputable school that can prove their cadavers are donated legally and ethically.

Matt H said...

I'm with The Bag on this one for sure.

Char said...

You know Matt, there must be one thing you and I agree upon. I'm patiently waiting to see what that might be.

Anonymous said...

Bonus section (Jewish Holocaust section) of Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh just reminds us that similar things are happening in China NOW. Please read the following report "Bloody Harvest" by David Matas, Esq. and Hon. David Kilgour, Esq.

After reading above reports you may think how to help stop the brutal and inhamn organ harvesting. Please read the following website.

Thank you for all your attention and support.

Mindy, NC

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