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Auburn’s White River Valley Museum gets deadly serious with new exhibition “DEAD”

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on Aug. 16, 2011 at 10:45 am with No Comments »
August 16, 2011 10:45 am
Astrid Lindholm, Sweden, circa 1915. From the archive of Paul Frecker.

It may not be everyone’s cup of embalming fluid, but the show opening at Auburn’s White River Valley Museum this week is perfect for the morbidly curious or anyone who just wants to find out more about how folks view death. “Dead: Unearthing the Shift in Funeral Practices from Home to Mortuary” takes on social perceptions of death via a collection of historical objects from embalming fluid jugs to black satin “slumber beds” for that long, extremely final sleep.

Opening Wednesday, “DEAD” in itself challenges the modern notion of keeping death under wraps. But while the idea of peering in on the relics of other people’s grief (many of which are on loan from Kayser’s Chapel and Crematory in Moses Lake)

might challenge a few faint-hearted souls, it’s a great way to see how the handling of death has passed from family to professional institutions.

Sponsored by Mountain View Cemetery in Auburn, the show includes some events, from a talk by guest scholar Louise Hull on how our current culture denies death (7 p.m. Sept. 29) to a “fright-free” family event about gravestones (1 p.m. Oct. 1) and a lantern-lit storytelling walk through the cemetery itself (Oct. 14).

Open noon-4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday through Nov. 13. $2/$1/free on Wednesdays and fourth Sundays. White River Valley Museum, 918 H St. S.E. in Auburn. 253-288-7433, www.wrvmuseum.org


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