I’m told that the Museum of Death attracts some really interesting people. I’m sure it does. Fans of death can be rather bizarre individuals. The museum focuses on all elements of death: murders, serial killers, how to embalm a body, what happens to bodies after they die, people who spent their life only understanding darkness, bizarre cases, taxidermy, etc.
But I think the museum is more than all of this.
One of the best parts of my visit was talking to the people who work at the museum. Because there are few people in the world who understand that death is about exploring the other side of life. The two are interchangeable and dependent. And, I feel that those people who really understand death see the world differently and really know how to live. It’s hard to find people who are able to have this philosophical discussion.
There is a scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that eludes to this… where Luna and Harry are the only two people who can see the Thestrals that pull the carriages to Hogwarts. To everyone else, the carriages move on their own, but Luna and Harry are able to see the beasts doing the work because they are the only two people who have experienced death. They share a bond which is further strengthened when everyone else dismisses what they are able to see.
But I digress.
While studying forensics, the two things that always got me were the smells and the depravity of the human mind. As someone who knows the smells death, the museum is rather tame, but there’s enough to knock people out when they are hit with the full gamut of the sensory experience. In fact, on the day of my visit, a forensics student passed out in the middle of a tour. Reading an analytical, neutral, and scientific textbook is completely different from the emotional blast of the real thing. I actually think that some people get addicted to this emotional blast.
I will admit, while in the Charles Manson exhibit, I smelled the Manson quilt that was handmade and used by cult members. I wanted to experience the smells of their life and a bit of olfactory history. But, I was disappointed because the quilt had been bathed in Febreze so I suspect it probably did smell like unwashed human bodies at one point. Eww.
Is the museum worth a visit? Perhaps, depending on what you’d like to get from the experience. What I can guarantee is… your understanding of the world and humans will change by the time you leave. And, you have to ask yourself, do I want this? If the answer is no, than I would do something else.
A few housekeeping notes: the building is an old recording studio so you will be unable to use a cell phone while in the building. Also, no photos are allowed… even though I took a few of skulls out of archaeological interest (nothing to appease death groupies). The reason behind the no photo rule is the museum is meant to be experienced (like I mentioned above). You won’t get that from pictures you find on the internet. Plus, it’s not respectful to the families of victims to keep circulating photos of the last moments of their life.