COURTESY COMMUNICATIONS PACIFIC
‘Bodies’ builder puts learning first
Dr. Roy Glover hopes people will take better care of themselves after visiting his exhibit
Starting Saturday, a dramatic exhibit, touting itself as an educational event and featuring specially preserved and posed cadavers, plus body parts, will open to the public.
'Bodies ... The Exhibition'
Place: Ala Moana Center
Time: Starting Saturday -- 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays -- through Jan. 18
Tickets: $26 general, $24 seniors, $19 students and military, $18 children (group discounts available)
Call: (877) 263-4375 or visit bodiestickets.com
"Bodies ... The Exhibition" will take up about 10,000 square feet at Ala Moana Center, off Kapiolani Boulevard and just Diamond Head of Nordstrom. The Honolulu exhibit will be the 10th one set up internationally; other sites include Budapest, Hungary; Vienna, Austria; Madrid, Spain; and one in New York City, which made news recently when a human rights group questioned the ethics of the exhibitions' use of cadavers of Chinese residents (see sidebar).
Despite the controversy, Dr. Roy Glover, who helped create the concept and preservation technique behind the traveling displays, said the corpses are meant to help the public better understand the body's functions.
"There are more than 250 specimens in the exhibit," said Glover via phone from Ann Arbor, Mich., "and up to 15 full-body, depending on the size of the venue. The display cases will show individual organs -- some pathologic, but most normal -- each with descriptive information written in a way that the general public can understand."
Glover is a former professor of anatomy and cell biology at the University of Michigan, where he taught at its medical school for 35 years and created the school's polymer preservation laboratory, where tissue fluids are replaced by liquid silicone.
"It's our mission to educate the public about the normal structure and normal function of the body," he said. "How disease is part of our lives, and relate what we do and how we care for our bodies.
"I think a highlight for visitors is that they come away from this realizing that the care of their body is extremely important and to take responsibility to make the best choices for our health. The exhibition talks about the effects of diet and smoking, what excessive amounts of alcohol and drugs does to the body, and it also highlights what certain common and silent diseases can do, like cancer, where sometimes you don't know what the problem is until it's too late."
ANATOMY, understandably, is a passion of Glover's, considering his medical background. An additional interest in technology helped him conceive and create the polymer preservation lab. What was originally intended as a teaching tool for medical students translated to a much bigger stage when Premier Exhibitions approached Glover to take the display on a global tour.
"The exhibition first opened in 2004, and to date, more than 8 million people around the world have seen it," he claims. "Over 350,000 schoolchildren have visited the exhibitions over the years. It's meant to be a family-oriented event. I encourage adults to speak to children beforehand as to why they're going to this. Parents can also bring up health-related issues such as smoking and drug use. It makes for an ideal learning situation."
Glover said there are nine galleries to the exhibition, each focusing on a body system and organized in such a way as to successively build upon one another. "This is not a random display. It starts with the skeletal system, the foundation of the body," and from there the exhibit explores the muscular, nervous and circulatory systems. At the end is a desk filled with body parts, an interactive activity for curious visitors.
"It's meant to give them an idea of what certain parts of the body, like the liver, heart or brain, feel like and look like close up. This is all done under the supervision of docents," he said.
"Reactions to the exhibition has been, in general, extremely positive and rewarding," said Glover. "It's our obligation to display the bodies strictly for educational purposes, and the galleries are kept very quiet to keep the environment as respectful and comfortable as possible."
COURTESY COMMUNICATIONS PACIFIC
"Bodies ... The Exhibition" stresses education over morbid curiosity in its displays of specially preserved and posed cadavers.
The Chinese origins of the cadavers have raised suspicion that they are of prisoners
The possible origins of the Chinese cadavers used in "Bodies ... The Exhibition" has generated controversy recently, particularly in New York City, where an exhibit is located at South Street Seaport.
The Laogai Research Foundation, a non-profit group that documents human rights violations in China, and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, have claimed that the bodies used may have been those of prisoners that were tortured and executed in China.
Roy Glover, chief medical officer and spokesman for Premier Exhibitions' "Bodies ... The Exhibition," said the cadavers and body parts do, in fact, come from Dalian Medical University in China.
Bloomsberg News reports that Cuomo said "the bodies and parts now on display in New York are licensed to Premier by the Dalian Hoffen Bio Technique Co. ... The Chinese company acquired the bodies indirectly from the Chinese Bureau of Police, which deemed them unclaimed at death."
Premier Exhibitions settled a probe by Cuomo by putting $50,000 in escrow to provide ticket refunds to New York customers who say they wouldn't have attended "Bodies" had they known about the questionable origins of the displays.
In a disclaimer posted at bodiestheexhibition.com, it states in part that "The Chinese Bureau of Police may receive bodies from Chinese prisons. Premier cannot independently verify that the human remains you are viewing are not those of persons who were incarcerated in Chinese prisons."
As for the possibility of posting such a disclaimer here, Carissa Tourtelot of Communications Pacific, which is handling publicity for the exhibit in Hawaii, said via e-mail that "to my knowledge, there will be no warning provided at the Honolulu exhibit, as there are no warnings provided at any of the other exhibits, with the exception of New York."