Although originally established in San Diego around 1995, the Museum of Death now calls Hollywood Boulevard home. It provides Los Angeles with everything it could ever want to know about death. That may sound grim, but owners J. D. Healy and Catherine Shultz say the goal of their project is to “make people happy to be alive.”
The Museum of Death is housed in what was once the home of Westbeach Recorders, the studio where Pink Floyd and other big names recorded their albums. The studio”s soundproof walls muffle outside noise, lending the museum an eerie silence.
In 1999, the couple won many items from the Heaven”s Gate Cult suicide house — the 1997 site of a mass suicide of people who believed death was the only way they could reach an alien spacecraft.
The museum is populated with instruments and symbols of death, like this stretcher.
And this old electric chair.
The collection started when Healy and Schultz began writing letters to famous serial killers asking for artwork. They then showed that artwork once a year.
They amassed so much from these serial killers that they decided to open a full museum.
One of the museum”s most famous pieces is the head of Henri Landru (also known as “Bluebeard”), the French serial killer who seduced widows and burned their bodies. He was executed in 1921.
For whatever reason, the museum also houses Liberace”s stuffed cat.
Other grimly fun things to check out are the new Thanatron exhibit one of the original suicide machines created by euthanasia activist Jack Kevorkian and the annual Black Dahlia look-alike competition, where guests come dressed as both pre- and postmortem versions of murder victim Elizabeth Short.
While the Natural History Museum might celebrate life, the Museum of Death is America”s best place to learn about mortality.