Until recently the collection was housed in the basement of the Sancho d’Àvila funeral parlour, the oldest of its kind in Spain. However, in 2015 the museum was re-housed in the Montjuïc Cemetery, one of the largest and most historic cemeteries in Barcelona, located on the outskirts of the city.
The museum’s collection is composed of 13 funeral carriages, six vehicles for carrying relatives and three modern motor hearses – including a striking 1950’s metallic Buick. Together they constitute an important remnant of Spain’s cultural heritage, telling the tale of the country’s social understanding of death and the afterlife.
These ornate vehicles are prime examples of Baroque and Art Nouveau design, especially the more prestigious carriages which served only to transport the city’s most illustrious residents. Equally remarkable are the white carriages, designed for carrying the corpses of children and virgins. Unsurprisingly, the carriages abound with mythological references and symbolism, including religious symbols such as Christian crucifixes as well as references to the Ancient Greek gods – such as the goddess Athena, who is often represented as an owl.