Saturday, September 27, 2008

Funeral Museums

Among my favorite interests are museums and things morbid, so it is particularly gratifying when I can kill birds with stones (as opposed to "releasing two birds with one gesture," which I was once told was more politically correct). Such is the case at the Museum of Funeral Customs in Springfield, Illinois. I tour it whenever I am in town, admiring the Victorian hairpiece that dwarfs my own , coveting the embalming instruments, and gazing intently at the items associated with the funeral of Abraham Lincoln. It was during the Civil War when embalming began (above left) and almost 50 years earlier when the first museum in the U.S. was established (above right).

Here I am at the funeral museum, which is next to Oak Ridge Cemetery, the location of Lincoln's Tomb (more killing of birds with stones). But if you can't get there physically, you can still visit. The Museum of Funeral Customs and the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston each have a multi-media web presence. You can take a virtual tour of the former, and the latter offers an on-line tour of a turn-of-the-twentieth-century casket factory.

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