Notable Los Angeles tourist attractions include the famous Hollywood sign, Mann’s Chinese Theatre with its assorted celebrity hand and footprints, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame featuring the names of entertainment luminaries. A relatively recent addition to tourists’ itineraries is the Museum of Death. This Hollywood Boulevard attraction is definitely not for the squeamish nor young. Graphic crime-scene photos, old mortuary equipment and displays devoted to the Jonestown and Heaven’s Gate cult mass suicides are featured along with numerous exhibits looking at violent deaths.
The Museum of Death is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team J.D. Healy and Cathee Schultz. The couple originally started with a San Diego art gallery that in 1992 featured one of the first serial killer art exhibits. Eventually, in 2008, Healy and Schultz opened their macabre museum in Hollywood.
After paying a $15 admission fee, visitors on the self-guided tour can “enjoy ” viewing a continuously looping embalming video used for training technicians. And, yes, they are working on a real corpse.
Exhibits run the gamut of gore. One includes a look at the 1947 Los Angeles murder of Elizabeth Short in what was dubbed the “Black Dahlia” killing. Short’s body was found cut in half along with other gruesome injuries. The murder has never been solved.
The 1969 California murders of, among others, actress Sharon Tate by the Charles Manson clan are also featured at the museum. Not only are crime scene photos of the tragic multiple murders displayed, there are also coroner and morgue photos of the many victims.
The man who was convicted of murdering several women in France and suspected of killing scores more, Henri Desire Landru, a.k.a. “The Bluebeard of France,” occupies a special place at the Museum of Death – on a pedestal. Well, at least his guillotined head does. It is the unburied body part remaining from his 1922 execution for murder.
Also on display, are autopsy photos of the murdered President John F. Kennedy that can be found along with a graphic sculpture of the assassinated president’s skull following the fatal 1963 bullet wounds.
For those in need of more gore, exhibits are also devoted to serial killers including 1970’s murderer John Wayne Gacy, who killed 33 people in the Chicago area. The museum also features original artwork by murderers including Gacy, Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez and David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz. There is even a doll once owned by Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed and cannibalized his many victims.
After viewing all the human carnage, visitors pass through a section devoted to displays featuring stuffed pets and freakish taxidermy exhibits, including a two-headed chicken. For those who survive the tour, the Museum of Death also offers a gift shop. Enjoy your near-death experience.