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Group to protest Ohio museum’s Body Worlds exhibit

Nov. 10, 2012 @ 08:35 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A group tied to Ohio State University is planning a protest Sunday to highlight what it believes is a Columbus science museum’s ill-conceived decision to present the Body Worlds & The Brain exhibition featuring human cadavers, tissues and organs.

Lucia Dunn, a university economics professor, told WBNS (http://bit.ly/UrSfma) that she and some of her students will be at COSI, the Center of Science and Industry, in downtown Columbus out of concern.

Dunn said they’re disturbed by accounts that the bodies come from executed prisoners and religious dissidents in China, not donors. Many of her Chinese students also say the presentation violates their beliefs about how bodies are treated after death.

“One young Chinese woman came in, looked at some of the pictures online and frankly burst into tears and just said, ‘Oh, my goodness, how horrible! How can they do this?”’ Dunn said.

The traveling exhibition features human bodies and body parts preserved through a process called plastination, which was invented by the show’s developer and promoter Gunther von Hagens, a German anatomist. The process reveals inner anatomical structures.

Body Worlds was first presented in 1995 and has since toured 50 museums and venues on three continents — including an earlier showing in Columbus. Similar concerns about the bodies’ origins arose during the exhibition’s six-month visit to a location near the outdoor shopping venue Easton in 2007.

COSI spokeswoman Jaclyn Reynolds said specimens came from willing donors who wanted science to benefit. She said the museum asked civic and religious leaders before staging the exhibit and received broad and unanimous support.

Reynolds described those whose bodies are used in the more than 200 tissue, organ and full body specimens as “people who felt very strongly that it was important to donate their body for this purpose and for the purposes of science.”

Dunn said she and the student protesters are skeptical.

“The bodies at COSI, we’re assured now, come with documentation,” she said. “But the fact is no particular body is ever publicly identified with any donation document. They say it’s out of privacy concerns, but you see, we can’t be sure.”

The exhibit continues through Jan. 6.