From a visual history of embalming to African fantasy coffins, the museum is a fascinating look at the history, science, and art of death. Featured in its unique collection is JFK’s original eternal flame, a diverse array of funeral programs from famous people, and a collection of beautiful hearses, both horse-drawn and motorized, including a tragic funeral bus which more than lived up to its name.
The specially designed funeral bus was meant to carry both coffin and mourners, but—when climbing a steep hill in San Francisco—it tipped over, sending both the living and the dead flying onto the street. It was quickly retired from service.
An exhibit about presidential funerals includes a bill from George Washington’s funeral and the hearse used to carry the bodies of both Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Visitors can pay their respects to Abraham Lincoln via a full-scale replica of Lincoln lying in repose. In addition to the faux body, the museum has a genuine lock of the 16th president’s hair.
The museum is also home to a school that teaches embalming.