Iowa Funeral Museum Takes a Look at The History of the Industry

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa- It’s a museum like no other in the state. The Iowa Funeral Museum and Education Center opened in 2017. The old Casey’s store was purchased after that company built a new store down the street.

“Open late August 2017 by Marty Mitchell, the owner of Mitchell Family Funeral Home here in Marshalltown,” said Billy Wilson, Curator of the Museum. “He’s been collecting artifacts from the funeral industry for over 30 years.”

The museum is designed, not to be morbid, or sensationalize death, but rather to look at the history of the funeral industry.

“We have over 5,000 artifacts from the funeral industry that are in this location right now,” said Wilson.

The museum also carries caskets which connect to some famous people who have passed. Wilson has stories on most of the items here.

“This particular model year with the same on the casket it was used to transport John F. Kennedy from Dallas Texas to Washington,” said Wilson.

That casket was then dumped in the ocean to avoid it falling into the hands of collectors. Other casket models were used by Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Al Capone, and Luther Vandross.

“This setting represents the Victorian era a lot of the funerals 1837-1901 a lot of funerals were in the homes, very common for the funeral home to take a portable organ to the home,” said Wilson

The oldest casket was produced on 1848, it weighed 300 pounds and sold for $100. Most wood caskets of that era sold for $2 dollars or less.

The Iowa Funeral Museum and Education Center is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 1-3 pm, or by appointment. It’s located at 1201 Iowa Avenue West, in Marshalltown. Call the Mitchell Family Funeral Home, if you would like an appointment to see the Museum. The phone number to call is 641-844-1234.