After denying claims that the human cadavers and body parts used in the "Bodies … The Exhibition" and "Bodies Revealed" exhibits were executed Chinese prisoners, the company that runs the shows admitted May 29th it could not independently verify the origin of the bodies.
"Bodies … The Exhibition" and "Bodies Revealed" include full-body specimens shown doing activities like throwing a baseball or riding a bicycle, as well as body parts like the interior of a heart or black lungs of a smoker versus healthy lungs.
The corpses are dissected to show the inner workings of the human body and preserved by a process called plastination, which removes the skin and replaces the body’s fluids with plastic that hardens, according to the New York Times.
Premier Exhibitions, which features the exhibits in 13 cities, including Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Vienna, Austria, and Santiago, Chile, made the announcement as part of a settlement with the New York State attorney general’s office in regards to the bodies’ origins.
"People have a right to know what they’re viewing," New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said.
"Respect for the dead and respect for the public requires Premier do more than simply assure us that there is no reason for concern. This settlement is a start," he said, to the Times reported.
Premier’s supplier said the unclaimed Chinese bodies were not executed prisoners but because this can not be independently confirmed, the company said it would clarify the origins at its New York venues.
The settlement requires that the exhibit obtain documentation detailing a person’s identity, cause of death and consent for the body to be displayed before obtaining new bodies, according to the New York Times.
Also, notices saying "This exhibit displays human remains of Chinese citizens or residents which were originally received by the Chinese Bureau of Police. 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," must be displayed on Premier’s Web site and at a sign at the entrance to the exhibit.
Refunds are being offered to patrons who attended the New York exhibition, which opened in November 2005. Patrons must send the company proof of purchase and a statement that says they wouldn’t have attended the exhibit if they were aware the bodies may have been prisoners.
The Times noted that Premier is setting aside $50,000 for refunds, in an offer that is good for six months, according to the terms of the settlement. The company will also pay the attorney general’s office $15,000.