Blog

Visitors respond to an exhibition on death

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: At The Museum, Date: 16 Sep 2009

In 2003 the Museum held an exhibition about death - here's a selection of what visitors thought about it.

In 2003 the Australian Museum staged an exhibition on the difficult and potentially confronting topic of death, called death – the last taboo. The aims of the exhibition were, in an overall sense, to talk about a subject that was not often discussed while answering many questions people are reluctant or scared to ask. Other purposes of the exhibition were to demystify death, especially as it is so sanitized in a Western society, and to provide an opportunity for people to consider death at a time and place removed from it. Visitors were recruited to participate in focus groups and asked how they remembered feeling and thinking at various sections as well as their responses to some of the more confronting material.

Here's what they said:

I’m coming to terms with death as an old lady and coming to this [exhibition] was part of that, accepting it and so on.

When you’re at the crematorium the curtains close and that’s the end of what you see and you always wonder what happens now? This [exhibition] shows you what happens behind the curtain.

[the personal stories section] was fascinating and so unexpected to see in an exhibition. It showed what you actually get reduced down to and it was reality. It was somebody’s story.

It spurred me on to think about death because at my age we don’t think about death. I never really considered what kind of casket I’d like.

I liked the part where the guy killed himself and they actually showed a picture of where he did it and the lady who was killed in a car crash and the charred remains of her belongings and how her relatives didn’t know what to do with them.

And finally,

I think I’m more capable of dealing with death now than what I was before I went in there just because I know so much more about it.