A deep dive into the dark and macabre subject and often taboo topic of death!
Having spent time earlier in the day on a tour of the St Louis #1 cemetery I thought I would carry on the macabre theme and visit the Museum of Death on Dauphine Street in New Orleans French Quarter. This small museum made up of three or four rooms provides a breadth of uncompromising materials and displays on this often taboo subject.
|Address:||227 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112|
|Hours:||Mon – Thurs 9 am to 6 pm, Fri – Sun 9 am to 7 pm.|
|Admission fees:||Adults: S 15.00. Not suitable for children|
The frontage of the museum is fairly subdued so you could easily pass it without noticing. You enter in through the gift shop and things are a little dark and grungy – fitting for a place that is exploring a dark place to go for many people. The ambience reminded me of the sordid feeling I get when going into a sex shop – yes I have frequented adult stores before!
One thing to note is that there is no photography allowed in the museum at all (apart from the gift shop). The museum has a lot of exhibits on loan and does not have the image rights, hence no photography, so you will have to be satisfied with my descriptions.
The first room you enter has a few skeletons which set you up for the rest of the experience. These are largely skeleton of animals – and most of us have seen things like this before in natural history museums and school science classes.
It is not long before things hot up. There are several exhibits on serial killers and violent criminals, that go into graphic details of their crimes, including footage, witness report and photographs. Even though over the years I have read, heard and seen many of the stories around these criminals it is reassuring that I still have enough humanity in me to find this stuff still shocking!
Having found and convicted these criminals then comes the punishment. For many of these cases in the United States, this meant death by electric chair or gas chamber. The museum provides written descriptions of these executions and in some cases photographs before and after. I am not personally a fan of capital punishment, even for the most heinous of crimes, so I found this stuff distasteful.
The story goes on. There is a video of doctor who actively supported assisted suicide, shrunken heads, victims of war and tales of people who died whilst practising autoerotic asphyxiation – each to his own.
Probably one of the most disturbing features of the Museum of Death is the small movie theatre. Here there is a running reel of gruesome footage of death and mutilation. I couldn’t bring myself to watch for too long but I managed to sit through a horrible autopsy and a film, which seemed quite old, of the aftermath of a brutal attack in some city where people are checking for those who are alive – they were mostly dead and there were a lot of them.
I found the Museum of Death fascinating. It does not pull any punches or try to glamorise death and promise something good will be there for us in the afterlife. It simply shows death in all its forms in a graphic and unsentimental way. Not being religious and having an analytical mind I liked this approach – it is great not to have something presented to you in a way that is aimed to validate or persuade you one way of the other.
I can recommend a visit to this museum, but not if you are at all squeamish about death. I also think this is not a place for children – perhaps older teenagers would find it interesting but for the younger ones, it would likely scare the bejeebers out of them and make them have nightmares for many months!