It is not very often that a job listing of working at a museum dedicated to coffins is released. However, a museum situated in England’s Birmingham city is looking for a tour guide who could explain to the visitors about the history of coffin-making and probably also be comfortable talking about death and afterlife.
The Coffin Works Museums recently posted a job listing for a tour guide who, as per the description, must love to tell stories about their building and collections and engage actively with visitors. Coffin Works Museums curates some of the oldest and most significant creations of coffins made by the company called Newman Brothers. Besides being a museum, Coffin Works also used to host death cafes where people would socialise and eat and talk about loss, or what happens when one dies.
Coffin Works was established in 1882 and initially focused on cabinet fittings before venturing into coffin construction business. The Newman Brothers were quite popular among the elite class of England as they supplied furniture and brassware, such as handles, plates and shrouds for the coffins of royal members like kings, queens and prime ministers, including Queen Mary, Princess Diana, and George V. However, they were forced out of business in 1998 due to competition from abroad and failure to modernise.
But, with the willingness to carry on the tradition and preserve it for the future generations, the last owner of Newman Brothers, Joyce Greendecided that the company should become a museum. Speaking to the Mirror, manager of Coffin Works, Sarah Hayes said that the museum can start a positive conversation around death and the things surrounding the topic. Sharing her own experience of working at Coffin Works, Hayes said that people might think it is weird, but this is a place that tells the story of an important city trade, as well as the stories of the people who used to work here, like Green.
Talking about tours, Hayes said that with the public visiting the museum, staff faced questions about death, which they were not prepared to answer. However, now they have included such conversations in their tours to cater to what the public wants, as Hayes described that the museum is the perfect place to get curious about death and ask questions like how hot does the cremator get, and how does embalming work.