death: the human experience


death: the human experience is about the most universal of experiences that we will encounter.

24 October—13 March 2016 10am—5pm. Free admission – Pay what you think.

Hundreds of incredibly diverse objects – from a Ghanaian fantasy coffin to a Victorian mourning dress – reveal captivating stories from cultures across the world, from the earliest human societies to the modern day.

The exhibition encourages you to consider ethical issues, different attitudes to death and how different cultures have dealt with the end of life.

As a society we are reluctant to talk about death and dying. death: the human experience is about helping to start that conversation.

Over 200 amazing items from across Bristol Museums’ collections including grave goods, preserved body parts, cof ns, Japanese watercolours, mourning clothes and much more are used to illustrate and explore six main themes:

symbols of death
This introduction to the exhibition considers why most cultures create symbols to represent death.

when is death?
This theme looks at the range of different perspectives around when a person is considered to be dead; from the moment the heart stops or when the soul departs the body.

stages of death
The largest theme in the exhibition begins with the process of dealing with the body post-mortem and funerals, and includes mourning, memorialisation and connecting with the dead.

attitudes to death
This theme asks you to consider if the way someone dies affects the way we feel about death?

human remains
Here, you are prompted to think about the variety of ways human remains have been used in the past and asks us how we feel about that today.

science and ethics
Do we want death to be part of our lives, to embrace the dying and their wishes? This theme examines the role of the medical profession today with exhibits on prolonging life and end of life choices.

Read more about the exhibition, including loans, planning and installation:

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Queens Rd

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