Death is life's only certainty, so J. D. Healy and Catherine Shultz did the only logical thing: they built a museum commemorating the end of life. The pair founded the Museum of Death in the late '90s, and it has locations in both Los Angeles and New Orleans. What can you see at the Museum of Death? The short answer is creepy stuff. From crime scene evidence to portraits done by serial killers, visiting the Museum of Death is a truly unsettling experience.
Weird attractions at the Museum of Death are not actually meant to spook visitors. The space is about death, not horror, and is intended to educate the public about a variety of issues surrounding death, funerals, and the afterlife. But that doesn't mean the Museum of Death is for the faint of heart. While inducing fear is not the ultimate goal, most people leave the museum as shaken as they are enlightened. If you dare, stop by two of the country's strangest museums to peruse exhibits and displays that explore everyone's ultimate fate.
In a side hallway in the Museum of Death in Hollywood, there is a grisly display called "For Your Consideration." It’s a series of photographs of a young woman who murdered her ex-boyfriend with the assistance of her new boyfriend. The pair then took various pictures of themselves grinning and posing as they mutilated and dismembered the victim’s nude body. Oddly enough, the pair had the pictures developed at a local department store.
Henri Ladru was a French serial killer who routinely courted and then murdered widows in Paris throughout the early 1900s. Landru posted a personal ad in a local paper falsely advertising himself as a widower seeking matrimony. He then lured vulnerable women to a villa just outside Paris, wooed them until they signed their savings over to him, and ultimately killed and dismembered them.
In 1919, the sister of one of Landru’s victims tipped off the authorities. The police closed in on Landru and raided his home, where they found incriminating evidence that included bone fragments in his oven and a list of missing women. Landru was eventually executed via guillotine for his crimes.
If you want to see the remains of the famed serial killer, you can do so at the Museum of Death in Los Angeles. Landru’s severed, mummified head is on display behind glass.
Heaven’s Gate was a cult that was formed in the 1970s and gained traction via the internet in the 1990s. Founded by Texas music teacher Marshall Applewhite and nurse Bonnie Nettles, the cult believed they were living in the end times and would be taken to new planets by a spacecraft that was following the Halle-Bop comet. In order to ascend to a higher plane, 39 cult members committed suicide by ingesting barbiturate-laced applesauce they then washed down with vodka in March of 1997.
The cult members’ bodies were discovered in a mansion near San Diego, CA. The deceased all wore Nike sneakers, placed bags over their heads, and covered their bodies with purple shrouds. If you want to see this macabre scene recreated with dummies, you can do so at the Museum of Death in Hollywood. In addition to the display, the video Marshall Applewhite made explaining the reason for the mass suicide plays near the exhibit.
President John Kennedy’s gruesome assassination on November 22, 1963 shocked the nation, especially since his death was caught on tape. The Museum of Death in Hollywood contains a sculpture of JFK’s head post-assassination, with the right side of the scalp and skull missing. There are also actual autopsy photos pinned up behind the sculpture.