The Museum of Death [Slideshow]

Inside Brooklyn's Morbid Anatomy Museum

November 9, 2014

"It's morbid not to think about death. We're all going to die. To me, it's the most essential problem there is - to come to terms with that." - Joanna Ebenstein

We know death is serious business, but does it have to be depressing? Joanna Ebenstein doesn't think so. She's the founder and director of the new Morbid Anatomy Museum, a quirky collection of personal artifacts that's housed in a former nightclub in Brooklyn, NY.

Over the years, Joanna's collected all kinds of death-related objects: human skulls and animal skeletons, Victorian taxidermy and death masks, rare books and wax-made cadavers. The museum's a throwback to old European "cabinets of curiosity" - eccentric displays of scientific wonders and cultural oddities designed to astonish visitor. Joanna recently gave me a tour of both her permanent collection and the temporary exhibition, "The Art of Mourning."  

In the museum, elaborate hair art shadowboxes and haunting photos of dead children gave me an unusual glimpse into how people used to commemorate death. What I found most striking was the juxtaposition of the profound and the playful. As Joanna told me about one of her own discoveries some years ago, "I had never known that beauty and death could go together."
I hope you find the objects in these photos as intriguing and remarkable as I do.