I’d been meaning to go for ages. A museum devoted to death is a must-see for a crime editor. As well, I reasoned, Buddhist monks often meditate in graveyards to attain spiritual clarity. An hour devoted to the subject of death might have more benefits than meet the eye. In retrospect, I’m glad I stopped for lunch beforehand.
The staff, all wearing Museum of Death t-shirts, were upbeat and friendly, with penetrating glances that directly met and held my eyes. Those folks can spot on sight the people destined for a “falling ovation,” which means you keel over, out cold, from viewing the contents of the museum. I was deemed a suitable candiate for viewing, and allowed to open the vintage jail-cell door that marks the entrance to a small vestibule. If you can handle the enormous, framed color photographs of dismembered hands and feet with chunks of flesh missing to partially expose bones, you’re probably good to go on inside.
From a tasteful exhibit of funereal fans, to complete crime scene photos of car accidents, murders and serial-killer rampages, the museum displays death and depravity in full color, full frontal detail. (Silly me, I wasn’t expecting so much nudity.) As well, original letters, drawings, painting and cards are on display, hand made by David Horowitz (the Son of Sam cannibal), John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson and others. Macabre but funny at the same time, Horowitz drew a picture of a meatball sandwich, with little human faces drawn on the meatballs.
I was getting dizzy after viewing an exceptionally clear and close-up video of an embalmer digging around for the carotid artery in a corpse, and decided perhaps I’d had enough. On the way out, the cheerful staff asked if I had any questions and bid me, “Have a great life!”
I sat in my car for at least 20 minutes, composing myself, reflecting on how fragile life is, and how happy I felt to be alive. I also wondered if I was really living life to the fullest. I think the results of my visit bordered on the “Buddhist monk” experience, a positive thing.
Can’t wait to go again in a few months, when some of the exhibits change. If you’re planning a trip to Hollywood, CA a stop here is recommended for crime writers. Eat lunch beforehand. Leave the sensitive and easily ill back at the hotel pool. $15. admission.
Read more about the museum here, scroll down for article: http://www.thecabinet.com/darkdestinations/location.php?sub_id=dark_destinations&letter=m&location_id=the_museum_of_death