There may be no better spot for true crime enthusiasts to visit than the Museum of Death in Los Angeles.
Located in Hollywood, in a building that used to house a legendary recording studio, the museum is the passion project of collectors J. D. Healy and Catherine Shultz. They pack an impressive number of artifacts into a relatively small space, and the visit will leave you wanting more.
The highlight of any visit to the museum is the serial killer room, which features the infamous (Jeffrey Dahmer, David Berkowitz, Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gacy), as well as serial killers who are not as well known, like Henry Lee Lucas and Otis Toole. The room is small, but artifacts and information are packed floor to ceiling.
They have a collection of paintings from Gacy, as well as artwork from Ramirez, Berkowitz, and others. They also have a number of letters by the killers from prison, as well as photographs of them from arrest and arraignment. They also provide detailed histories of the killers, and descriptions of theircrimes and the victims.
The other highlight is the room devoted to the Manson Family Murders. Whether you are just learning about Manson, or have already studied the crimes in depth, you will enjoy the collection they have accumulated, including autopsy photographs. Attached to the Manson room is a space devoted to other infamous California murders, including the Black Dahlia, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, and actress Rebecca Schaffer.
In the hallway outside the Manson room, there are a number of graphic accident scene photographs, as well as crime scene photos from a particularly gruesome murder. They also have a number of artifacts from the Heavens Gate Cult mass suicide.
In addition to crime, the museum also has rooms dedicated to executions and mortuary science. The visit ends in an auditorium of sorts, complete with chairs from a funeral home, where visitors can watch videos from the “Faces of Death” series, which show actual deaths caught on tape.
For the true crime enthusiast, the only regret upon completing your visit is that the museum only has space to display about a third of their collection at any one time. The good news is they have opened a new branch in New Orleans, allowing for more artifacts to be displayed simultaneously.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
(Update, March 2021) The Los Angeles location is currently closed while the museum relocates. A satellite location in New Orleans is open, however.
The museum is small, but can take 1-2 hours to tour, depending on how much time you spend time with the exhibits, including the many letters on display in the serial killer room. The museum has no windows or natural light, and can feel crowded when busy.
Open Sunday through Thursday, from 11am – 8pm; Friday from 11am – 9pm, and Saturday from 11am – 10pm. Admission is $15. Address: 6031 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA. http://www.museumofdeath.net