If you’re in the Houston area and you fancy an alternative dark tourist experience, you should definitely head to the National Museum of Funeral History.
Enter with the right state of mind, and you will leave feeling optimistic about life: “Any day above ground is a good one,” is the slogan of the museum, and I couldn’t agree more!
Founded in 1992 by undertaker Robert L. Waltrip, (there is an embalming school next door), the museum aims to celebrate our precious lives, by showing us how we have honored its loss over the generations.
Inside the National Museum of Funeral History
The National Museum of Funeral History contains the largest collection of funeral exhibits you will find anywhere in the USA.
The artifacts on display range from horse-drawn hearses from the 19th century to JFK’s original eternal flame.
There’s a whole section dedicated to the funeral programs of famous people, as well as memorabilia from Michael Jackson’s memorial service.
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How the Victorians Celebrated Death
A focus on the Victorian practices surrounding death are especially interesting, (I am originally from the U.K).
These include a ceremonial wooden clock that was designed to remind family members of the departed to mourn on the hour.
There is also a beautiful quilt poignantly made from the ribbons that would have bound the flowers together for the service.
On a macabre note, keep an eye out for the jewelry on display that is made from human hair. A memento you once could have carried from the head of the deceased.
The museum also covers African fantasy coffins, and you can enjoy an in-depth look into the history of embalming.
A rather fetching exhibit is the Snow White–inspired glass casket.
The Death of PopesHowever, the museum is probably best known for one of its exhibits that you will not find anywhere else in the world; a detailed exploration of the death of Popes.
For this the Museum collaborated directly with the Vatican, bringing unprecedented insight into the ceremonies surrounding papal funerals. The standout piece covering this is the full-scale replica of Pope John Paul II’s crypt.
Overall the 35,000-square-foot museum is just teeming with death in a manner that is far from morbid.
A family can have a day out here and enjoy the “fantasy coffin” section that includes caskets shaped like a shallot, a Mercedes automobile, and a chicken. There’s also a heartfelt tribute to legendary Batman star Adam West.
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Where is the National Museum of Funeral History
- Address: 415 Barren Springs Dr, Houston, TX 77090, United States
- Phone: +1 281-876-3063
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good to know
The museum also features special exhibits that are only on display for a specific amount of time. At the time of writing, a rather interesting “Icons in Ash’ is being promoted.
Here, you will be able to view “life-affirming portraits made from cremated remains”. Interesting indeed. The point being, it is definitely worth checking the website to see what the latest exhibits are before you go.
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If you’ve visited a strange or unusual destination that you think our readers will want to know about, we would love to hear from you.
Featured Image Credit: Funeralhistorian [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons