I have always felt uncomfortable about the concept of the display of human bodies in museums and otherwise. The first time I experienced this was seeing mummies at the ROM as a child. I could barely force myself to peek into the esophagi of these ancient remains.
In yesterday’s Star, there was a remarkable column by local rabbi Dow Marmur (who writes regularly in that space) that articulated exactly how I feel. An excerpt:
Gehenna is on display in Toronto. It’s the Greek and Latin word for the HebrewGey Hinnom, the Valley of Hinnom in Jerusalem, where in ancient times unburied bodies were left to rot. The Bible knows of no greater indignity than not properly disposing of human remains. In many modern languages,Gehenna has become another term for hell.
That’s why I’m scandalized by the latest version of the display of cadavers, ostensibly artistically presented and purportedly promoting knowledge, which opened earlier this month at the Ontario Science Centre.
When I walked through the exhibition in its earlier incarnation some four years ago, I felt like a tourist in hell. The fact that the show was popular seems to suggest that many people are attracted to the macabre.