Ether Monument (Boston, Massachusetts)
A fabulous sculpture/fountain in Boston Public Garden dedicated to the first use of ether as an anesthetic, which occurred at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846. You can see a number of lovely photos of the monument on Flickr. (Thanks to Lady Morgana for the suggestion.)
Museum of Sepulchral Culture (Kassel, Germany)
This sounds like a goth dream come true! A museum that blends death-themed modern art with ancient coffins, tombstones, hearses, framed death notices, memorial photography, embalming equipment, mourning clothing, etc. Here’s an article that goes into greater depth on this fascinating museum:
German Museum of Death Anything But Morbid
Thanks to Steve ORourke for the link.
The Museum of Criminal Anthropology (Turin, Italy)
In 1876 Cesare Lombroso, a forty-year-old former army surgeon and the medical superintendent of a lunatic asylum at Pesaro in northern Italy, published a treatise on criminal man, L’Uomo Delinquente, which claimed that his lifetime study of more than 6000 criminals had shown that they tended to possess certain well-developed physical characteristics. In Lombroso’s view, habitual criminals tended to have wide jaws, high cheekbones, long arms, and large ears (approximately square in shape), as well as an unusually narrow field of vision. In 1898, Lombroso founded this museum under the name “the Museum of Psychiatry and Criminology” to display his collections. There are 400 skulls in his collection, Also on show are drawings, photos, criminal evidence, anatomical sections of “madmen and criminals” and work produced by criminals in the last century. The exhibits also include the Gallows of Turin, which were in use until the city’s final hanging in 1865. And, best of all, Lombroso’s own head is on display in a jar!
Saint Roch’s Campo Santo (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Dan writes to recommend this cemetery:
I too have been to both St. Louis #1 and #2, and while they’re the famous cemeteries in New Orleans, they’re not the prettiest. My favorite one is Saint Roch’s Campo Santo, which is located inland from the Bywater area and down-river from the Treme. It’s on St. Roch street. It’s small, 1 square block, but contains some truly amazing grave sculptures and ironwork; very picturesque! The 14 stations of the cross are done in near-life sized marble sculpture, and inset into the walls surrounding the cemetery. It also has a small very creepy chapel dedicated to St. Roch. The altar is set atop a bloodied corpse of Jesus, while off to the side of the altar there is a small antechamber filled with syncretic christian/animist offerings to various Voodoo saints. It is well worth the visit!
I don’t know how it fared after Katrina. I was there in 2002 and made a short black and white movie about the cemetery, spending a couple days in filming there in complete safety. As with most cemeteries in NOLA, it’s owned and maintained by the Catholic Church.
Waverly Hills Sanitorium (Louisville, Kentucky)
Charles recommends this location, which is now open for tours:
Waverly Hills south of Louisville on Hwy 31W (Dixie highway) was once a TB sanatorium (my grandmother spend a year there in the 30’s). There is a tunnel from the building to the incinerator about 300 yds or so away through which the dead were gurneyed so that no one could see how many were dying there. It was a geriatric center in the 60’s for a while (my mother worked as the receptionist there, and my rock band played a concert there for the patients when I was 13 years old), then went into disrepair, was full of graffiti and a site for yearly hallowe’en haunted houses. There were many apparitions reported in the building. In the late 90’s a couple bought it and are restoring it and offer tours.
Marshall House (Savannah, Georgia)
The Marshall House is the oldest hotel in Savannah, built in 1851. During the Civil War it was used as a military hospital, and when it was renovated in the 60’s, they found bones under one of the rooms that they ascertained were amputated limbs from soldiers. It’s no wonder this place is considered to be haunted.
Teri-Lynn Koch wrote to tell me of her unexplained experiences when she stayed at the hotel:
I stayed in one of the balcony rooms. The first night I came in through the window and didn’t want to drop my phone so I tossed it onto the bed. My mom watched me do this before she went to her room. After climbing through the window I went to get my phone and it was gone. I had to have my mom call it and it was in the front pocket of my purse where I keep it when I go out.
The second night, I took my shower and climbed into bed. After turning off the lights, I felt someone running a finger down my arm the way a significant other would. It was a light touch but scared the crap out of me. I turned on the lights and told it that was not acceptable behavior and to go away. Luckily it did but I am positive the Marshall House is indeed haunted!
Lisa concurs with Teri-Lynn’s opinion. Here’s her account of a sleepless night at the Marshall House:
I just spent two nights at the Marshall house with my friends. My husband and my friends are non-believers. However, after the pictures I took clearly of a face, which moves along the hallway (the staff said I had the best pix they had ever seen) and my friend took some too which also show the face. Then, last night, there was no sleep in our room…..”someone” kept tucking in the covers of my bed, and once even lifted the corner of the mattress as if making a “hospital corner”. I can tell you I was awake most of the night!
Destiny Tours (Sydney, Australia)
Fleury Nicola sends this site: “I discovered this website about tours of Sydney, Australia in ‘haunted hearses’ (one of which has leopard print seats!). The tours take you through the most haunted places in Sydney (houses, jails etc) as well as places where other morbid things have happened including ‘crime scenes, sites of suicide, sex, suffering and scandal’. I haven’t actually been on this tour but if anyone morbid is visiting Sydney it’s well worth checking it out. As they say ‘don’t leave the best ride of your life till last’.”
Waverley Cemetery (Sydney, Australia)
A beautiful cemetery by the sea. (Thanks to Scott for the suggestion.)
Rookwood Cemetery (Sydney, Australia)
“Rookwood Cemetery is one of the best and largest surviving examples of a Victorian cemetery in the world.” (Thanks to Scott for the suggestion.)
My goodness – they certainly know how to do museums RIGHT in Rwanda!! Instead of laying out a thousand pairs of shoes or hairbrushes to represent the deceased as our Holocaust Museums might do, in Rwanda, they lay out the actual BODIES!
I step into the first room. The smell of decay hits me first. The dead are laid out on slatted wooden tables. The partially decomposed bodies have been preserved with lime. It gives them a chalky look. They are shrunken and brittle. At first I don’t see individual bodies, just shapes. Then my eyes begin to focus. It’s not the skeletal remains that are shocking. It’s the stories that are written on those remains. You can see where machetes have sliced off limbs, where clubs have smashed skulls. You can see faces screaming in pain, upper bodies twisted in flight, hands contorted in anguish. Some torsos still have shirts on. Some hands still sport wedding bands. Some of the dead are children. Suddenly I realize the others are waiting for me. This room is just one of dozens. We move on. The next room is similar. And the next.
Talk about a Morbid Must-See! Thanks to Laura for the suggestion.