An international mix of artists, academics, morticians and other professionals who specialize in death are gathering at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia Monday and Tuesday to ponder mortality.
It’s called a Death Salon, a throwback to the 18th-century French salon, in which people from different backgrounds met to discuss ideas.
With a name like Death Salon, one might also think it glorifies death or paints a glossy picture of it. That’s not the intent, says cofounder Megan Rosenbloom.
“We strive for nuance and reality,” she says. “We can be entertaining, and informative and totally respectful at the same time, and I do think we do a really good job of that.”
The idea, she says, is to make uncomfortable topics approachable, creating a space for people to explore their mortality through sharing knowledge and art.
Topics range from the realities of forensic pathology to the performance and analysis of murder ballads.
The salon started in 2013 in a small but packed venue in Los Angeles. Rosenbloom says to her surprise, it quickly took off, with demand taking the event from San Francisco to London. This is the fifth salon, but the first one on the East Coast.
Rosenbloom, a native of Philadelphia, says she couldn’t think of a more perfect spot.
“The Mütter tagline is ‘disturbingly informative,’ she says. “That’s pretty much what we are.”