Photos: National Museum of Funeral History

Photos: National Museum of Funeral History

Credit: Cara Smith

HOUSTON -- The National Museum of Funeral History boasts the largest collection of historical artifacts related to the funeral service industry.

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by KHOU.com staff

khou.com

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 19 at 3:54 PM

HOUSTON – In recognition of next year's 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, the nation's largest museum on funeral history is attempting an overhaul of their current macabre Lincoln display.

Houston's own National Museum of Funeral History has launched a campaign in an effort to expand their collection of Lincoln memorabilia, using Juneteenth, the day Emancipation reached Texas, as the kick-off date for the campaign. To date, the museum has an exact replica of the .44-caliber Derringer pistol used by John Wilkes Booth to assassinate Lincoln. Visitors can also see a miniature model of Lincoln's funeral train that traveled almost 2,000 miles, taking him and his late son's bodies to Springfield, Missouri for burial. The train has been compared to today's presidents Air Force One; Lincoln's only ride on the train was posthumous, as its construction was completed after his assassination.

Though Lincoln lost sons Edward, Willie and Thomas at ages 4, 11 and 17, respectively, it was only Willie's body that was exhumed for one final trip with his father. The Lincoln Special funeral train, as it has become known, was decorated in black and traveled slowly to Springfield, stopping in many cities for grandiose memorial ceremonies in honor of both Lincolns. Hundreds of thousands of Americans attended. 

The museum also has a stunning wax replica of Lincoln, lying repose in his casket. Guests are encouraged to participate in a "Leave Us Your Lincoln" display set up near the late-president's exhibit, which asks visitors to leave pennies and five-dollar bills to fund the exhibit's expansion. In addition to acquiring more memorabilia, the museum is hoping to complete a collection of pennies dating back to 1909 -- the year Lincoln's visage first appeared on the penny.

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The National Museum of Funeral History boasts the largest collection of historical artifacts related to the funeral service industry, and features sobering recreations of papal tombs and Presidential caskets. The museum is filled with restored hearses, some hundreds of years old. Visitors are also given a chance to reflect on some of history’s most notable deceased public figures in an area called “Thanks for the Memories.”

Be sure to check out the rest of the Presidential Funerals exhibit, where Lincoln is only one of four presidents featured in the exhibit. Among other things, you’ll get the rare chance to see the original Eternal Flame from John F. Kennedy’s gravesite and the authentic bill from George Washington’s funeral.

The National Museum of Funeral History is located at 415 Barren Springs Drive, Houston, TX 77059. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. If you’d rather visit over the weekend, the funeral is open Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m.

For more information on the National Museum of Funeral History, click here.

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