Life Pickled Punks, Protested
The press release begins like this: The “Seattle Museum of the Mysteries condemns Premier Exhibitions and the Seattle Theater Group’s exhibit ‘Bodies: The Exhibition’ as a blatant exploitation of cadavers for financial gain.”
I saw a different version of the same idea a few years ago in Chicago—real dead people, in action poses, some without skin, some just skeletons—and it was satisfyingly gross. And educational. Just like the marketing said.
The controversy: the dead folks in this exhibit come from Dalian, China (“the hub of the corpse-processing industry”), where poverty, corruption, human rights abuses, and a robust black market in human organs casts suspicion on the origin of the bodies. The exhibitors say they have certification from the Chinese government that the corpses (including bona fide, old timey pickled punks) died of natural causes, were not disappeared Falun Gong members, etc., etc. But, according to the Seattle Times they have refused to show the documentation.
The Museum of the Mysteries press release continues: “The directors feel the exhibit of over 21 cadavers which are displayed without consent of the deceased is a gross disrespect of the dead… The cadavers have no public verification of their origin and have a history of leaking fluids.”
The recalls the Victorian-era anatomical museums and freak shows (also billed as educational). Ironically, the Museum of the Mysteries is the closest thing we have to those old-fashioned oddity emporiums—it features exhibits about crop circles, bigfoot, UFOs, an oxygen bar (“to help hangovers, headaches and allergies… ask for price and nose hoses at desk”), and their famous ghost tours. Wait a second—ghost tours? Isn’t that exploitation of the dead for financial gain?