Donate SIGN UP

Human Remains In Museums..

Avatar Image
sandyRoe | 10:08 Wed 29th Nov 2023 | History
19 Answers

For many years the star attraction in the Ulster Museum, for children at least, had been a mummy.  When I was younger there was also a tattooed Maori head on display.

While the origins of the mummy are lost in the mists of time the Maori head could date from the 19th Century.

How old must remains be before they're considered suitable for public display?



1 to 19 of 19rss feed

Best Answer

No best answer has yet been selected by sandyRoe. Once a best answer has been selected, it will be shown here.

For more on marking an answer as the "Best Answer", please visit our FAQ.

Good question, I find it fascinating but distateful.  I enjoyed looking at similar exhibits in the Birmingham Museum when I was a child, as did my own children.

I am going to be cremated as I don't want Tony Robinson and his ilk digging me up to satisfy their curiosity. 

I'm not sure. But it is odd putting remains in a museum instead of burying or cremating

Construct, they were buried - and dug up or retrieved many years later. 

It's just strange digging them up for people's enjoyment

Maybe ask the question 'where's the line between grave robbing and archaeology?'

I don't think there are any time restrictions.


//The unique body donation program was founded in 1982 by Dr. Gunther von Hagens and has registered more than 19,000 donors worldwide. //,of%20discovery%20under%20the%20skin.

Gunther is a very strange man.  I did watch some of his C4 series but the 'plastination' of the bodies made the autopsies unrealistic.  They may as well have been dummies.  

Barry, My husband went to see that exhibition when it was in London.  I decined the invitation but he said it was fascinating.

Folk seem too easily upset about such things. It's just a body after all, it's not like the owner is still in there.


One can understand thinking it disrespectful and upsetting if it was a person you knew when they were alive, but otherwise why refer to such an exhibition as enjoyment when it's clearly more about curiosity and education ?


I doubt there is a minimum time specified anywhere, but maybe there is. Anything hundreds of years old, or willingly donated by the original owner on their death, shouldn't cause too much reasonable objection. It's not that much different to leaving your body to medical science.

Morbid things are fascinating, naomi, but I wouldn't have gone to the exhibition either.  

I am fascinated by the body farms that started in America to allow scientists to understand decomposition of bodies in different circumstances.  It has proved to be very useful in establishing time of death and helped solve murders.  Once again I watched the documentary but would not want to visit one

OG, I may occasionally make an exhibit of myself in life (unintentionally) but I refuse to be an exhibit in death.

Question Author

There's a great difference between offering your mortal remains for medical research, or even to be displayed in one of Dr Gunter's shows, and being displayed to titivate gawpers.

The Maori head, for example, could have been taken as a war trophy as late as the 1870s.  I doubt if permission was sought before it was taken and displayed.

I don't know how many Maori heads there are or were in Ulster but National Museums NI repatriated a Maori head to New Zealand in June 1991.

You wouldn't be there to get concerned about it.

If it’s your sort of thing – you can visit the Paris catacombs.

^Rome also.

or St Pauls Catacombs ,Rabat ,Malta.

A striking collection of Maori heads.  A bit distasteful IMHO.

1 to 19 of 19rss feed

Do you know the answer?

Human Remains In Museums..

Answer Question >>

Related Questions

Sorry, we can't find any related questions. Try using the search bar at the top of the page to search for some keywords, or choose a topic and submit your own question.