Discussing historic and otherwise noteworthy funeral cars is one of my favorite topics on this blog. Looking at the modes of transportation used throughout history as well as the evolution of funeral traditions and practices brings it all together for me. But writing and reading about these cars is one thing, seeing them in person is quite another. That’s why I’m adding the National Museum of Funeral History onto my summer road trip Wish List.
You might expect a museum dedicated to funerals to be housed in a picturesque Victorian manor house, perhaps surrounded by a white picket fence and a few tombstones. But you’d be wrong. So pack some sun screen and be sure to keep an eye out for a nondescript building. It turns out, the museum is located in what appears to be an old industrial park. A bustling town home community of young families constitutes the area today, located in a largely shade-free area of Houston.
What the building lacks in curb appeal, it makes up for once you step inside. The building is enormous, with a display room easily large enough to park an airplane. There are meeting rooms and classrooms as well, although these are off-limits to the public.
The permanent collection at the museum is impressive to say the least. The museum covers the most obvious base first with their impressive collection of antique and custom coffins which includes everything from a casket provigil adorned with real money (who says you can’t take it with you?) to Fantasy Coffins from Ghana. A Victorian funeral parlor, embalming exhibits and the largest collection of Ghanaian caskets outside of Africa are just a few of the many rare treasures you will find.
Of course, when it comes to impressive size, the hearses and funeral cars take the cake. The collection takes up a great deal of the display space as well as attractive plenty of visitors. Here you will find authentic antiques sharing space with high quality replicas, although the signage does a great job of letting you know which is which.
Of course, no roadside attraction visit would be complete without the obligatory gift shop stop. The gift shop in the museum is impressive but it’s the one thing you don’t have to travel to Houston to appreciate. Their website offers the same merchandise shipped direct from the museum. You can choose from books about the funeral industry and Day of the Dead merchandise to leather hearse coasters and Undertakers Root Beer.
The National Museum of Funeral History is an interesting place. Part tourist trap, part fascinating historical museum, it is a must-see for any true fan of funeral cars and related memorabilia. If you are interested in the funeral vehicles of today, be sure to visit our convenient dealership. We would be happy to assist you in finding the right car for you.