Experience the Art of the Funeral in Houston
Death is a difficult, emotionally-exhausting subject, but everybody contemplates their own mortality at some point. So with holidays like Halloween and Día de los Muertos fresh on the mind, there’s no better time to talk about one of Houston’s most interesting establishments: The National Museum of Funeral History. Here, visitors get a chance to learn about the history of funeral science, how other cultures celebrate and mourn the loss of their loved ones, and of course, indulge in the museum’s gift shop, which should have a sign saying, “Well, you can’t bring it with you.”
Regardless, the existence of this museum just goes to show there’s something for everyone in Houston. At the very least, those in the funeral industry need homes too. Just imagine how impressed they’ll be when you know a thing or two about the business, its history, or just that you’ve been to the museum.
Mourning at the National Museum of Funeral History
The museum, which includes 15 permanent exhibits and several temporary exhibitions, is recommended for children above the age of 7. “The museum is intended to be a historical, cultural, and educational experience,” reads the museum website.
“People have to come and experience it for themselves. So many people get taken aback by what they think we house, and then they come in and say, 'Wow, I didn’t know all this existed,'” Museum President and COO Genevieve Keeney told The Houston Press.
Founded in 1992, the museum was spearheaded by Robert L. Waltrip, the founder of Service Corporation International, a publicly-traded company that provides funeral goods and services in Canada, the United States, and Puerto Rico. Today, the museum spans over 30,000 square feet and includes unique exhibits like ‘the Presidential Funeral’ to chronicle the funerals of various presidents, a papal funeral exhibit which takes a closer look at the Pope’s send-off, old coffins, undertaker’s tools, funeral decor from bygone eras, and an expansive hearse exhibit.
"We have a fascinating collection, everything from a horse-drawn hearse to motorized. You can see how they have changed over time. Car enthusiasts really enjoy it,” Keeney said.
The museum helps keep history alive in other ways too. The institution participates in the area’s Civil War reenactments, where they show people how the fallen were prepared for burial during that time, and they also demonstrate how to celebrate Día de los Muertos properly.
Make no mistake, The National Museum of Funeral History isn’t a morgue, funeral home, or a mausoleum, though a current exhibit, Icons in Ash, does portray paintings made from the ashes of loved ones. Rather, it’s a look into the history of the funeral industry and where it’s headed. So if you or a client would like to move into one of the surrounding neighborhoods, which offer modern homes in the mid $200s, we say go for it!
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*Hero image provided by Nola Family