PITTSBURGH – A museum employee has quit in protest of an exhibit coming to the city this fall that features 15 full-body human corpses preserved by a process called plastination.
Elaine Catz, an 11-year employee of the Carnegie Science Center, submitted her resignation last week after raising questions about the ethics behind "Bodies ... The Exhibition." The exhibit is coming to Pittsburgh in October for a seven-month run.
Catz said she was uncomfortable with the exhibit because its organizers, Premier Exhibitions of Atlanta, can't say how the bodies died or why they died.
"Before we put our stamp of approval on it, there should be a high burden of proof on Premier," Catz told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In the exhibit, the bodies are featured in poses and their skin is removed. It is one of several similar traveling exhibits that millions have seen worldwide.
Officials with Premier said the bodies obtained from a Chinese plastination lab are those of people who were unidentified or unclaimed. The corpses were preserved through plastination, which replaces body fluids with liquid plastic. The plastic is hardened, leaving tissues intact.
"We're a publicly traded company," said Arnie Geller, Premier's president. "We've done all due diligence and are very sensitive about our own requirements let alone the legal ones. The people we work with in China are highly reputable and we have no reason to doubt them."
Joanna Haas, the science center's director, said the exhibit is a great opportunity for people to see the inner workings of the human body.
"This allows a much broader segment of the population to see what's inside, at a time of growing concerns about health and wellness," Haas told the newspaper. "It will be a great catalyst for young people to explore careers in health and medicine.