The National Museum of Funeral History was founded in 1992 by Mr. Robert L. Waltrip, whom I’d like to imagine had quite an interesting childhood. I mean, what young, little whippersnapper doesn’t grow up dreaming of becoming the founder and curator of a collection of artifacts dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of the funerary arts?
But, in all seriousness, funerary customs are believed to be “one of man’s oldest cultural rituals,” so it’s entirely fitting to preserve and present those rituals in an educational setting.
This isn’t just any funeral museum, it houses the country’s largest collection of funeral service artifacts and memorabilia. It’s purpose: To showcase the “rich heritage of the industry which cares for the dead.” Death care is a booming industry these days.
The museum joined forces with the Vatican (yes, THAT Vatican) in 2005 to feature it’s most majestic exhibit to date: “Celebrating the Lives and Deaths of the Popes.” And, yes, the Popemobile is there.
In order to provide enough space for the whole exhibit, a 10,500-square foot expansion was made, “which included premium sound and lighting, three-dimensional scenes and audio/visual multi-media presentations providing visitors with a true sense of attending a Pope's funeral.”
As far as funeral museums go, let’s just say, Texas takes that whole “Everything is bigger in Texas” thing to heart. The museum is over 35,500 ft of funerary functionality.
For the past 25 years the National Museum of Funeral History has been alive and well, and is currently the “largest educational center on funerary customs in the United States and perhaps the world.”
Current exhibits include:
Day of the Dead
History of Embalming
19th Century Mourning Customs
Coffins and Caskets of the Past
Ghana and Fantasy Coffins
So, on your next road trip through the Lone Star State, should you find yourself with a hankering to hit up a funeral museum, well, you’d be in luck, because there is a funeral museum, which you have just read all about.
You have my deepest condolences.