The Tiffany-designed 1914 Swan Memorial in the Bronx’s Woodlawn Cemetery is being restored after over a century of deterioration in the open air.
A Prototype for a New System of Composting Human Remains
The Urban Death Project is building a structure at Washington State University where human remains will be transformed into soil.
Revisiting America’s Dead in Posthumous Portraits from the 19th Century
The 19th century saw the rise of the posthumous portrait when, through photographs and paintings, people preserved the faces of departed loved ones.
Death by Wallpaper: The Alluring Arsenic Colors that Poisoned the Victorian Age
Lucinda Hawksley’s book Bitten by Witch Fever chronicles the rise of poisonous pigments in the 19th century through the burgeoning British wallpaper trade.
A Lost 15th-Century Mural that Depicted Death’s Indiscriminate Dance
In 1942, an Allied bombing in Lübeck, Germany, destroyed a famous 15th-century dance of death mural by artist Bernt Notke.
A History of Photographing Ghosts
In 1860, William H. Mumler set up the first photography studio that claimed to capture the dead, and his success started a movement of spirit images.
When a Drowned Woman’s Face Became the Muse of Paris
The face of “L’Inconnue de la Seine” was a fashionable fixture of salons and studios, her enigmatic expression of a slight smile and closed eyes haunted by stories of her suicide.
The Real Corpses That Served as Models for the Doomed Crew of the “Raft of the Medusa”
For his most monumental painting, Théodore Géricault borrowed corpses from morgues and asylums to capture the ghastly horror of the 1816 Medusa shipwreck.
London’s Most Eccentric Museum Restores the Catacombs Beneath It
The public can now visit the Catacombs of the Sir John Soane’s Museum as he intended them to be experienced.
A Burial Suit of Mushrooms that Consume Your Remains
Despite embalming and sealed caskets being a relatively new tradition in American burial, brought about by the high mortality of the Civil War, we’ve quickly become uncomfortable with our mortal decay.
Mourners from Around the Globe Gather to Share Our Traditions of Grief
As a New York gravedigger once succinctly put it to me: “We all have dead.” No person is isolated from loss.
Shopping for the Afterlife in China
Chanel shoes, McDonald’s french fries, iPhones, cognac, lacy lingerie, and machine guns are just a few of the consumer goods you can purchase for the dead in China.