The air is freezing in a new Brooklyn museum where 110 human spines hang from the walls, full skeletons stand high from the floor and more than 90 skulls are in a display case for all to see starting next month.
While the sight of human remains may trigger thoughts of serial killers, Jon Pichaya Ferry uses his large collection to educate people about the stigmatized bot trading market.
Ferry, 22, told DailyMail.com that there are hundreds of thousands of human skeletons in the US that were used for medical purposes, but now they are collecting dust in attics because people don’t know what to do with them – and he created his company JonsBones as a solution.
“People feel like they’re stuck to the bones because schools don’t take them and it’s illegal to throw them out the wrong way,” Ferry said.
‘JonsBones provides a service to them. Every piece we have in the showroom comes from individuals who inherited them from a relative who was once in the medical field.”
Jon Pichaya Ferry exhibits his large collection of human bones at his new museum in Brooklyn in hopes of educating the public about the bone trading market
The museum has a wall filled with 110 human spines. All bones were once used for medical or educational purposes and are legal to own. Many of the remains belonged to doctors and professors in the 1950s who have since passed away, leaving the bones to their next of kin
The collection, valued at approximately $500,000, is sprawled in a 175-square-foot space in the center of a trendy Bushwick neighborhood and while visitors can feast their eyes on the remains, they will also learn about the history of how the bone trade arose during the one hour tour.
The humble beginnings of the bone trade date back to the 18th century in the United Kingdom, when a group of corpse thieves called the Resurrectionist stole human remains from medical schools.
In the United States, people stole the remains of Native Americans to make a profit.
News of these nighttime raids began to spread, forcing governments to step in and legislate against such acts.
Ferry has over 90 skulls displayed in a large glass case that he uses to educate people about the history of human remains sold in the market
Ferry told DailyMail.com that there are hundreds of thousands of human skeletons in the US that have been used for medical purposes, but now they are collecting dust in attics because people don’t know what to do with them – and he founded his company JonsBones as a solution
The bones were then purchased in the US from China and India.
“In 1983, 63,000 skulls were shipped to the US and UK in one year,” Ferry says.
“People don’t realize the scale and the volume and even though many of these institutions have moved” [from purchasing human bones]the bones still exist.”
The outsourcing stopped when “medical companies started to grow to meet this demand,” Ferry continued.
“There were fourteen big bot companies that supplied the entire world trade, but only four or five are still active.”
And this is where JonsBones comes in.
Many of the skeletons in the museum were in people’s attics because they had been passed down by a relative and the new owners didn’t know what to do with them. Ferry offers these individuals a place to dispose of the remains that could possibly be used by educational institutions
The collection, valued at approximately $500,000, is sprawled in a 175-square-foot space in the center of a trendy Bushwick neighborhood. Pictured is the location at 44 Stewart Avenue
The JonsBones website says it sells “responsibly sourced human osteology” and its mission is to “destigmatize a stigmatized industry.”
Ferry is only targeting bones that show any indication of medical use — nothing archaeological, he told DailyMail.com.
At JonsBones, the remains are photographed, compiled, documented and preserved ‘so that future generations can learn’.
Ferry, a full-time student studying product design at Parsons, discovered his love for bones when he was just 13 years old and his father gave him a mouse skeleton. Pictured is Ferry as a young boy with his father
Ferry said his collection agencies may need one or two skeletons — each of which can be sold for at least $6,000.
The bones for sale also include femurs, skulls, spines, and any loose remains Ferry currently has.
“These bones are not a decoration, not a vanity and are not used as a gimmick, but they are used for teaching and learning,” he said.
“We’re getting these pieces back into the hands that could benefit from them.”
Ferry, a full-time student studying product design at the Parsons School of Design in New York, discovered his love for bones when he was just 13 years old and his father gave him a mouse skeleton.
“I wanted to study osteology, but I couldn’t access bones in the state I was in,” he said.
This made him realize that there are human bones in people’s homes and they don’t know what to do with them.
Most of these bones date back to the 1950s and 1960s, when medical students had to buy the remains for classes.
Decades later, these individuals have passed away, and now their next of kin are the new owners of the bones — and many fear the legality of possessing and throwing them away.
Ferry said he has received thousands of emails from people who have skeletons in their closets and are terrified of getting into trouble because of it.
He continued to explain that his degree in product design allows him to use a different method for identifying skeletons.
“I’m looking at it from a design standpoint, how it’s made,” Ferry said. “I can determine where it’s coming from by looking at connecting pins.
Like, brass and copper were used from 1920 to 1960 and then they switched to brass.
These little details, Ferry says, help him discover how the remains were prepared, and help him identify where they came from.
The Brooklyn Museum, which officially opens next month, will display a total of nine full skeletons, more than 90 skulls and a wall of 110 human spines, along with thousands of individual bones.
“I’ve always preached open accessibility and transparency,” said Ferry, who went on to explain that the museum provides an opportunity for people to ask questions and express their views on the bone trade.
“People from Western cultures have romanticized existing theories about true crime,” he said.
“When people see bones, their minds jump to pop culture and not from a scientific or educational standpoint, and we want to have a conversation about that.”
While Ferry’s business is legal, there are many in the US that aren’t — and most open shops on social media.
In 2020, Facebook opened an investigation into several private groups selling and asking for human remains, including skulls, fetal remains, and even a mummified six-year-old child from the 18th century.
While Facebook has a policy that explicitly prohibits the “buying or selling of human body parts or liquids,” some users found a solution by using the site’s private groups feature.
A seller listed a human skull for $1,300 and claimed it came from a “young teenage woman,” but offered no other information about its origin.
And a separate listing described an elongated skull rumored to be from Peru, for sale for $10,500.
There are no federal laws in the US that prevent individuals from possessing, buying or selling human remains unless the remains are of Native American descent.