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Dark Destinations > United States > Locations in Texas > National Museum of Funeral History


 
National Museum of Funeral History Other destinations within a
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Availability: Open to the Public
Filed Under: Museums/Libraries/Exhibitions
Added By: Tom G
Added On: June 03, 2008 - 08:12 PM UTC
Last Modified: November 13, 2008 - 01:37 PM UTC
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Address
415 Barren Springs Dr, Houston, TX 77090, USA (Houston, Texas)
 
Information
National Museum of Funeral History
This museum in Houston, Texas is dedicated to the history and tradition of funeral practices. The museum was founded by Robert Waltrip, a former mortician. The museum opened to the public on October 18, 1992. The museum's motto is "Any day above ground is a good one." An alternate form of the museum's motto (replacing "Any day" with "Every day") was borrowed by the HBO drama series Six Feet Under for promoting its fourth season. The museum houses an incredibly large collection of funeral items displaying both artifacts from historical funerals and aspects of funeral practices from around the globe and prior ages of history.

Coffins, Caskets & Hearses
The National Museum of Funeral History exhibits multiple hearses ranging from horse-drawn to gas-powered. Horse-drawn hearses include both wheeled and those with sleighs. One of the hearses (a 1973 Mercedes) was used to transport Princess Grace (Kelly) of Monaco to her funeral after her death by car accident on September 13, 1982. Other hearses display the craftsmanship and style of their era.

The museum displays coffins and caskets of unusual design. There are coffins artistically sculpted by Kane Quaye of Accra, Ghana. His designs are shaped to symbolize the lives of the deceased. The designs displayed include animals, vehicles and plant life. There is also coffin made of glass to look like the one in Disney's Snow White and others designed for practical purposes, such as keeping a body cool.

A Casket Built for Three
One of the items on displays is a casket that was specially designed to hold three bodies. It was built on request in the 1930s for a couple who had lost their only child. The couple intended to commit suicide and then have the dead child disinterred and placed in the casket with them for reburial. The couple changed their minds before going through with the suicide and wound up moving away, leaving the unusual casket behind.

In the 1950s, the wife contacted the funeral home where the casket had been ordered from. She stated that her husband had died and she wished a refund of their money for the casket that had gone unused. The current owner wrote back that the funeral home had changed owners twice in the decades since. He went on to write that he could not refund her money and that the casket needed to be moved. She apparently didn't write back and the odd casket eventually found its way into the possession of the National Museum of Funeral History.

Mortuary Practice
The museum also displays equipment used in preparation of the deceased for viewing and burial. There are also exhibits educating visitors about embalming and preparation of corpses through thousands of years, ranging from ancient Egypt through the American Civil War and into modern day.

Historical Funerals
Besides the hearse that transported Grace Kelly to her funeral, there are other exhibits dealing with historical funerals. The original Eternal Flame that burned at the grave of President John F. Kennedy is on display here. It was replaced with a new flame system in 1998. There are also exhibits dealing with the funerals of historical figures and pop culture icons ranging from George Washington to Elvis Presley.

Gift Shop
Visitors can purchase keepsakes of their visit to the museum. Items for sale include mugs, shirts and hats with the museum's motto emblazoned on them. There are also die-cast models of hearses and funerary jewelry. There are also educational books and videos available for sale.

Check the web site below for hours and days of operation and any further information.

Special Thanks to April A. Taylor for supplying Dark Destinations with photos for this article.
 
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Related Sites
National Museum of Funeral History
The official web site of the National Museum of Funeral History.
Roadside America: National Museum of Funeral History
Roadside America's web page for the National Museum of Funeral History.
YouTube: National Museum of Funeral History
A video taken inside the National Museum of Funeral History.
 
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See Also on TheCabinet.com
Blog: The National Museum of Funeral History (06/11/08)
Blog: The National Museum of Funeral History (10/18/08)
Blog: Dark and Disturbing Holiday Gift Ideas (12/08/08)
 
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Images
 
Casket Built for Three
The casket specially built for three in the 1930s. Image © April A. Taylor
From: Tom G
 
Crab Coffin
A coffin shaped like a crab at the National Museum of Funeral History. Image © April A. Taylor
From: Tom G
 
Fish Coffin
Fish-shaped coffin at the National Museum of Funeral History. Image © April A. Taylor
From: Tom G
 
Mourning Dress
Mourning wear at the National Museum of Funeral History. Image © April A. Taylor
From: Tom G
 
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The above content is for informational purposes only. Before making any travel arrangements, it is highly recommended that you contact those in charge of the property to check for updated availability and hours of operation. While we do our best to keep this information updated, we cannot guarantee that it is completely valid and up to date. Any destination marked "Closed to the Public" is marked that for a reason and we discourage any visits or attempts to gain access to that facility. Similarly, take note of any "Travel Advisory" that may be associated with a destination. Finally, treat any location and its local residents with respect. Any vandalism and/or unruly behavior is completely despicable and only ruins the experience for future visitors.

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