Lindow Manchester


Body Worlds Link
February 15, 2008, 9:07
Filed under: Lindow Man Exhibition

It was bound to happen. Ever since someone wrote to the M.E.N.   (7th February) and compared the Body Worlds exhibition at the Museum of Science & Industry with the display of Egyptian mummies and “Lindow Pete” at the Manchester Museum there have been letters to the press and requests for us to give interviews. 

One member of the public claimed that the Museum did not receive complaints about displaying the mummies. Actually the Museum does receive commments  from the public about the Egyptian mummies, and a number of people we consulted last year about displaying Lindow Man, expressed concern.

The Museums profession has been debating the issue of human remains for quite some time. Public opinion has shifted over the years and even if curators in museums are ahead of the debate, we are definitely living in a post Alder Hey world. Some people do understandably get upset about this issue and institutions can no longer assume they have an automatic right to hold material of this kind and to do with it what they will.   Museums have to be sensitive to both to public distrust of institutions and to growing concern about what happens to human remains.  

Our policy and practice at the Manchester Museum reflects changing social attitudes and the  debate within the museums profession about the ethical treatment of human remains. Hopefully our Lindow Man exhibition will demonstrate sensitivity and respect.

There are clearly implications for how we display other human remains at the Museum, like the Egyptian mummies and we are starting to consult on how we might present them differently.  So no, I don’t think it appropriate to compare us with the Bodyworlds exhibition.  A public  debate on the subject will be held at the Museum of Science and Industry in May.

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4 Comments so far
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The Alder Hey vocal minority have disrupted scientists, museums and the medical community for long enough. They jump on anything with the vaguest connection as an opportunity to air their private griefs.

We had a public enquiry and installed the legislation – the HTA – so can we move on, and stop harrassing museum directors, of all people.

I can’t wait to see Lindow man ‘in the flesh’ as it were. And I will be going to Body Worlds too. Manchester is privileged to have two such important exhibits in one year.

Comment by Jacky

I wonder if having these two exhibitions on in the city at the same time will polarise people’s views of them? Inevitably, comparisons will be drawn between the two. Could body worlds be seen as an insensitive ‘freak show’ compared to the respectfully considered Lindow exhibition, or bodyworlds as engaging and educational rather than ‘tip-toeing’ around an ethical minefield?

Comment by Sandy

Ironically, I’m researching and writing a paper on the philosophy behind museum display of human remains using BW4 and the Manchester Museum as case-studies…I’d be interested in learning more though as you can never have enough material…

Comment by David

we seem to be moving backwards in our reverence for body parts, the alder Hey affair brought out the worst in both the medical profession( collecting parts without permission) and the public ( getting upset over bits of aborted foetus’s). Bits of flesh were being accorded separate funeral rites.Compensation and headline grabbing was very much in the minds of many protesters I think. I thought Martin Luther and others had dispelled that mumbo jumbo.Agreed there are property rights – much of the collections of the 18th and 19th century were stolen from Africa and Asia and the Americas but filial mourning for Mummies? No. Respect and Interest? yes.I look forward to the Lindow exhibition (please don’t start a “return Lindow man to his home town” for good)
BM

Comment by Bill major




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