For some reason I have the song “That’s Your Funeral” from the musical Oliver! playing in my head. Maybe it’s because I have just read about the Bestattungsmuseum (Undertakers’ Museum) in Vienna. Located near the Schloss Belvedere in an old funeral home, the museum contains more than 600 artifacts documenting Viennese funeral and burial rituals. On display are elaborate black uniforms worn by the pallbearers (Pompfüneberer), as well as hearses, wreathes, sashes, lanterns, torches, black flags, a football shaped urn, photographs of corpses seated in chairs (Probably still better than half the crap I see on Facebook) and a Magritte-inspired “sitting coffin”. Speaking of coffins (this is an undertakers museum after all) there are quite a few interesting, historical pieces. One is the economic, re-usable coffin, made with a flap on the bottom, which was created by the Emperor to save wood and hasten decomposition. Well, it proved quite unpopular and led to riots. Can you imagine people rioting over crappy caskets in today’s world? Besides football riots, I really can’t. Anyway, it was quite common to attach a cord-like device to the hand of the deceased inside the coffin, just in case the corpse came back to life he or she could ring a bell. To this day the city’s hospitals still occasionally administer lethal injection after death to avoid premature burial. This is probably why the Viennese hate cremation. Besides the whole “fear of being buried alive” thing, it sounds like they would much rather leave behind a schöne leiche (a beautiful corpse) than be reduced to dust. Hey, it’s their funeral!