At the Museum, families can share in the discovery of historical topics, ancient and international cultures, as well as ponder important topics as a family. Visiting the Museum as a family can be a life-enhancing experience for all generations offering many lasting life lessons. Families can journey through human history, science and culture by exploring the 15 extensive exhibits at the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston. The Museum’s exhibits are appropriate for ages 7 and older, feature topics that appeal to a wide variety of interests and age ranges, and are wheelchair and stroller accessible/friendly. Click here to see a map of the museum layout.
To add some fun to your experience, the Museum features two different scavenger hunt activities. One scavenger hunt encourages families to discover interesting facts from the history of the funeral industry, while a second helps families learn and brush up on the traditions of the Popes. Museum visitors who submit their completed (and correct!) scavenger hunt forms earn a one-time 10% discount on gift shop purchases.
For History Buffs
Presidential History: The Presidential Funerals exhibit covers all presidents from George Washington through Gerald R. Ford. A 30-45-minute presentation that provides a behind the scenes look into the planning of Presidential state funerals is available to groups, with at least four weeks advanced notice, based on availability of the presenters. The Abraham Lincoln displays within the exhibit, including a full scale recreation of President Lincoln lying in repose, an authentic mourning badge worn by a guest at his funeral in 1865, an exact replica of the Derringer pistol used by John Wilkes Booth in the president’s assassination and more, are of particular note, as 2015 marks the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln’s death.
Military History: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier exhibit and the Reflections on the Wall exhibit offer opportunities for older generations to teach younger generations about important eras in our nation’s history, and instill respect for our fallen heroes. Did you know there will never be another soldier buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? Come to the Museum to learn why.
History of Embalming: Families can explore the Ancient Egyptians’ early methods of preparing the dead for the afterlife and learn the origins of modern embalming as developed on the battlefields of the Civil War within the History of Embalming exhibit.
For the Ones Who are Always in the Garage
Evolution of the Vehicle: The Historical Hearses exhibit spans from horse-drawn carriages to hand-cranked models to gleaming vintage models from the heyday of motorized vehicles. Visitors will marvel the funeral cars manufactured by Cadillac, S&S Scoville, Ford, Mercedes, Rolls Royce, Henney and more, as well as the unique funeral bus designed for streets of San Francisco, the hearse used in Princess Grace of Monaco’s funeral and more.
Craftsmanship: The Coffins and Caskets of the Past exhibit features historic methods of working with wood and metals, including a recreation of a casket-building shop. Visitors can marvel the artistry of the Fantasy Coffins from Ghana exhibit, which features coffins crafted into elaborate shapes and figures, as well as admire the delicate details of the hand carved wooden panels of several historic hearses throughout the Museum.
For Science Lovers
Chemistry/Biology/Anatomy: The History of Embalming exhibit explains early embalming techniques as well as modern methods and introduces visitors to Dr. Thomas Holmes, the “father of American embalming,” and how he introduced embalming to our culture. The exhibit also covers Egyptian customs, as well as the biological and chemical processes the body goes through immediately following the cessation of life.
For Social Butterflies, Travel Bugs & Wordsmiths
Memorabilia from Past Leaders, Heroes and Celebrities: The Thanks for the Memories exhibit features iconic personalities and figures, highlighting the unifying bonds of popular culture. Visitors can take in tributes to celebrities, sports figures, world leaders, astronauts and historical events that still impact our lives today such as the Space Shuttle Challenger, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs and many more.
Customs and Traditions from Around the World: Throughout the Museum, a variety of cultures of the world are highlighted, including the role of Rome and The Vatican throughout history within the extensive Celebrating the Lives and Deaths of the Popes exhibit, the meaning behind Dia de los Muertos traditions from Latin America, a rare horse-drawn carriage hearse from Germany, the spiritual beliefs of West Africa through the Fantasy Coffins of Ghana exhibit, embalming practices of Ancient Egypt in the History of Embalming exhibit, an elaborate funeral car from Japan and more.
Social Customs: Visitors can discover the extensive rules of mourning etiquette practiced during the 1800s in the 19th Century Mourning exhibit, as well as why this is known as the Victorian age, even in American history.
Vocabulary Enrichment: The Museum experience offers impactful comprehension of countless vocabulary words. Many exhibits offer insight into the origin of common phrases and how various objects got their names.
Catholic Traditions and History: In the Celebrating the Lives and Deaths of the Popes exhibit, family members can gain perspective on Catholic traditions through the centuries and learn about the process of canonization (becoming a saint), as well as learn about Vatican City, the sovereign city-state within the Italian city of Rome. Text within this exhibit appears in both English and Spanish.