Home Arts + Culture Art + Museums Explore American history with the NMFH’s patriotic exhibits

Explore American history with the NMFH’s patriotic exhibits

The Presidential Funerals exhibit at the National Museum of Funeral History | Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Funeral History

Immerse yourself in multiple historical exhibits devoted to late American leaders, United States history, and popular culture at the collection of patriotic exhibits to be found at the National Museum of Funeral (NMFH) in North Houston.

A showcase for history, science and culture, the NMFH presents a clear and present affection for American history.

The museum’s curators have cultivated a collection of fascinating exhibits that reveal intricate and surprising details about the nation’s past by looking at the customs and traditions around how Americans honor the dead.

These exhibits include flag-forward displays that commemorate and pay tribute to those who have served the United States, along with collections that offer snapshots into the American psyches of the distant past as well as those of today.

Explorations of American Patriotism & Service

The United States has a proud tradition of honoring its leaders in state funerals, commemorating servicemen and women lost in battle, and recognizing all who have proven that freedom isn’t free. Patriotic exhibits National Museum of Funeral History showcases the history of the nation’s presidential funeral services and commemorates those who were lost in the Vietnam War, on September 11, 2001, and more.

Artifacts and casket recreations flank the Presidential Funerals exhibition at NMFH | Courtesy of National Museum of Funeral History
  • Presidential Funerals – One of the museum’s signature collections, Presidential Funerals boasts an extensive display of artifacts and original items from state funerals and burials of some of America’s great presidents. Items include the authentic bill for President George Washington’s funeral, the original eternal flame from President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite, a full-scale recreation of President Abraham Lincoln lying in repose (and a lock his actual hair), and other presidential surprises. Learn and see more.
  • George H.W. Bush Memorial – Focusing on the funeral of Houston’s own 41st President of the United States and that of his wife Barbara Bush, the exhibit highlights the famous “4141” funeral train that traveled from Houston to A&M University in College Station, and features multiple items from memorial services. Learn and see more.
  • Reflections on the Wall – Direct from the Smithsonian Institution and presenting a series of poignant images from the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on November 13, 1982, this collection of photographs captures the significance of that day in American history. Learn and see more.
  • 9/11 and Fallen Heroes – Commemorating September 11, 2001, a devastating day and turning point in American history, the exhibit memorializes the men and women who lost their lives in the terrible event, pays tribute to the first responders who bravely served and helped, and honors others who have lost their lives while “on the job” protecting and serving their communities. Learn and see more.
Jazz Funerals of New Orleans is a spirted exhibit located in the center of the museum’s main hall. | Photo courtesy of National Museum of Funeral History

Explorations of Uniquely American Culture

Beyond the stars and stripes, and the honoring of people who have served the country, the National Museum of Funeral History also has several exhibits that explore and celebrate aspects of American culture—including the funerals of celebrities, the festive second line marches of the Crescent City, and a compelling collection of American horse drawn and vehicular hearses spanning more than a century.

  • Historical Hearses – One of the museum’s most popular and impressive exhibits, Historical Hearses boasts an assortment of carriages and vehicles that have made a statement at a time when people were without words. Highlights include elegant horse-drawn funeral carriages of the 19th century, a 1916 Packard funeral bus, the actual hearses that transported Grace Kelly and U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald R. Ford, and more. Learn and see more.
  • Thanks for the Memories – Named for Bob Hope’s famous sign off, Thanks for the Memories offers an up-close and personal look at the grand farewells for some of the nation’s most iconic figures. It includes items used in the funeral services and burials of Americans like Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Frank Sinatra, Jim Henson, Whitney Houston, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, John Wayne and others. Learn and see more.
  • Jazz Funerals of New Orleans – Celebrating the New Orleans tradition that started in the late 1800s and continues to today, this exhibit highlights the second line—a lively and spirited jazz march that follows a more somber funeral procession (the first line) through the city streets. Learn and see more.

Patriotic American Exhibits at the National Museum of Funeral History

Historical Hearses at the National Museum of Funeral History | Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Funeral History

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