Funeral museums liven up the death industry
In a recent blog post, I called Philadelphia the most haunted city in the USA, due to the high number of number of commercial haunted houses that spring to life this time of year.
Reader Ann Marcum notes that the Buckeye state has its own deathly fascinations. It’s home to no fewer than four funeral-related museums.
The granddaddy of the genre, however, is in Texas, where the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston (its motto: “Any day above ground is a good one”) presents 12 exhibits, from the History of Embalming to Presidential Funerals.
If you’re looking for a skull-shaped shift knob ($11), the museum’s store is where you’ll find it. The museum is also events venue for car shows, sporting events and a seasonal haunted house (through Nov. 6).
Ohio’s nod to the funerary realm are less ambitious, perhaps, but in the spirit of the season, here’s a rundown.
The Peoples Mortuary Museum in Marietta is connected to a working mortuary and showcases memorabilia from the early 1900s, along with 1920s- to 1940s-era hearses.
Tucked in the basement of the Sturgis House Bed & Breakfast, a funeral parlor turned lodging in East Liverpool, is an “informal” funeral museum. Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd, Public Enemy No. 1 in 1934, was embalmed here before being shipped off to Oklahoma. His death mask hangs above the washing machine.
"The B&B doesn’t really advertise this, but will take guests/visitors through upon request," Marcum writes.
Famous Endings Museum in Dover, showcases one man’s collection of more than 1,500 celebrity-death-related items. Listen to audio recordings from funerals of the famous and check out celebrity grave markers.
And finally, the William Lafferty Memorial Funeral and Carriage Collection, as its name suggests, sports a large collection of antique hearses, both motorized and horse-drawn, that date to 1848.