The Museum of Death

By: Sydney Angel

Up until around the time I turned eight, I was afraid of everything. Long after my twin brother could put himself to bed, I would insist on both my parents tucking me in at night; checking for monsters beneath my bed and double-checking my closet before I would allow them to leave my room. There was a sudden change in my personality however, and it was around the third grade when I grew interest in horror movies, books, poems and real life horror as well. While I am still not quite sure what prompted the sudden change in my behavior, from being afraid of anything and everything, to not being phased by even the most gut-wrenching of scenarios, ever since the third grade I have had an extreme fascination for all things dark and twisted; and over the summer, I got the opportunity to visit a museum that truly understood my captivation for stereotypically scary and shunned subjects.

This summer I went to the Museum of Death in Hollywood and it was by far one of the top five coolest things I have ever witnessed. Although not allowed to take pictures inside the museum, the building’s exterior looks anything but inviting. With overgrown ivy crawling up the white-brick walls, surrounded by an oversized white-ribbed fence, the eerie skeleton plastered near the entranceway sets the tone for what to expect on the inside.
Ever since my sudden change of heart in the third-grade, I have wanted to be a behavioral profiler and work directly with serial killers; so it was to my sheer delight when I walked into the first room of the museum to find it is home to the world’s largest collection of serial killer memorabilia and paraphernalia. The museum owners even had a substantial amount of John Wayne Gacy’s original artwork, and had even become close friends with him after his prosecution, and had letters from their correspondence out for us to read. The collection also included locks of some victims’ hair, videos of interviews with the serial killers and even collectable bobble heads.

While off-putting to my friend accompanying me, the serial killer collection failed to make me feel scared. It was not until the last room in the museum that I finally got to feel the same fear that was so intensely enrooted in me as a child. The last room of the museum was set-up as a mini theater; the room decorated so understatedly, I half expected them to be playing a positive movie after the two-hour gore-fest we had just witnessed throughout the museum. Instead, the theater chose to play videos of real people being murdered in a multitude of different scenarios. The film, which switched from old footage, to more recent events, was on full volume, and I still to this day cannot get those noises out of my head. For who knows what reason, my friend and I sat in that room for thirty minutes, not a single video replaying itself. The murderous scenes we have all grown jarringly accustomed to in movies and television shows were nothing compared to the real gory horror that was dancing across the screen.

Although the Hollywood Museum of Death is indisputably not for the faint at heart, it was an experience that cannot be effectively created in any other scenario. I highly suggest visiting the museum if ever in the Hollywood area, but thoroughly weighing your own emotional stability before stepping foot into the theater.

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4 thoughts on “The Museum of Death

  1. Wow that museum sounds cool! I’m kind of unhappy with the museum’s choice of film though, I suppose. It’s one thing to be watching horror movies or reading about it when you know it’s a figment of someone’s imagination. In these cases, you know no one is really getting hurt. But it’s a completely different thing to be showing real murders, I think. It just feels extremely insensitive to me; these are real people who are victims that they are showing. Obviously those people are no longer living so they can’t really object, but they had families who I’m sure were very strongly affected by their deaths, and this is making entertainment out of them. If I was someone affected by one of the deaths they are showing video of, I think I would be disgusted. I just wonder how the museum curator(s) could be so desensitized to murder that they wouldn’t find this a cruel thing to do. Also, how did they get their hands on all this footage? Unless they weren’t actually real and they just wanted you to think they were….

  2. I really want to go to this place, but I am way too scared. For me there is a huge line between fake deaths and real deaths and I just can’t see myself to ever look at real life horror memorabilia. I can’t even look at a dead body at a funeral without feeling weird. I think I am just going to stick to my horror movies and television shows. Great post!

  3. That sounds horribly creepy. I don’t think you could pay me to even step foot in there, let alone spending more than two hours. I love horror as much as the next girl, but only the fake variety – even just thinking about all that serial killer paraphernalia made me shudder. And I have to echo Rachel’s thoughts – it seems very insensitive to use tapes of actual murders, if that’s what they did (as opposed to saying that the murders are real when they aren’t). And the idea of having the victim’s hair on display for entertainment purposes just sets me on edge. It would definitely be quite the experience, but not one that I’d feel comfortable with.

  4. I remember seeing pictures of the outside of the museum you’re talking about on social media as a kind of clickbait. I had no idea people actually went there! It sounds extremely interesting, in the most dark form of the word. I especially am interested in the serial killer section, because learning about serial killers is also very intriguing to me although I don’t know if I could ever work directly with them Criminal Minds-style. To echo the comments above, the real-life murders leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. It seems wrong to exploit the horror and death of real people for a museum to make money off of. Also, I would get the unsettling feeling that there would be people there around me that would be enjoying it. The serial killer/medieval torture device aspect of the museum would be interesting to me but I draw a very distinct line between learning about horror in the past and watching real people getting murdered. Very good post, though and thanks for proving that the museum wasn’t just clickbait!

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