Everybody loves history museums. Each Saturday, they’re full of kids dragging parents between exhibits and rattling off never ending questions.

“Mommy, did the Indians share their tomahawks with the cowboys?”

“Daddy, does Baskin Robbins have Black Plague? It sounds yummy?”

Fortunately for museums, we all enjoy revisiting the morbid chapters of our collective past. But take care ye curators of antiquity, do not confront your patrons with their own mortality, lest the creepy factor rises and ticket sales will plummet. Just how grim can museums get before they penetrate our robust sense of denial? Answer: pretty darn grim.

The National Holocaust Museum, for example, gets 30 million visitors a year, including 9 million school children. For most of us, these atrocities happened to strangers a long time ago, so apparently even genocide doesn’t activate our self preservation scripts.  

OK, let’s crank up the macabre-o-meter and add a personal twist. Welcome to the National Museum of Funeral History (NMFH). If this place doesn’t put a kink in your survival instinct, I don’t know what will.

Exhibit 1: The Dead Popes

5,000 square feet are dedicated to centuries of Papal demise. This elaborate production includes three-dimensional scenes, multi-media presentations, Pope clothes, Pope coffins and the original Pope mobile.

Exhibit 2: Historical Hearses
The NMFH has a fleet of unique hearses, any of which would do the Munsters proud.

This collection includes vehicles used in the funerals of Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and Grace Kelly. Also on display are a Japanese pickup hearse, various horse drawn carriages and sleighs. My favorite hands down is the 1916 Packard funeral bus, large enough to hold the coffin, pallbearers and up to 20 mourners.

Exhibit 3: Ghana Fantasy Coffins
In Ghana, it is believed honoring departed relatives with lavish ceremonies prepares them well for the spirit world. Hand carved coffins reflecting characteristics of the deceased is common practice. The NMFH has quite the Ghana collection, including a chicken, lobster, eagle, crab, leopard and a fish

Exhibit 4: Embalming Station
This is a tribute to Dr. Thomas Holmes, the father of American embalming. Visit Holmes’ Civil War embalming station. Note the drain bucket under the…prep counter(?) And, is that an oven to the left?? I don’t even want to know how this process works, but if you do, “Undertakers University” is next door. Seriously.

Exhibit 5: Gift Shop
Congratulations on making it through this tour of death. Please reward yourself with some keepsakes from the gift shop:

RIP Sippy Cup

Coffin Business Card Holder

Hearse Coasters

Coffin Cufflinks

…and many more.

After you’ve left this building, you’ll still feel the cold reality of the embalmer’s instruments. You’ll have trouble forgetting the corpse cooler. Not even your new RIP sippy cup will fully cheer you up. For the rest of your life you will understand this museum’s mantra “Any day above ground is a good one.” You can also purchase this reminder at the gift store.