"I hope after visiting here people realize that life is short and they should live it fully, that even a bad day is a good day," Healy says. "I want people to walk out of here with a better appreciation of life."
The first customer this day is a woman who had dated a Heaven's Gate victim. "She wanted to see if he was on the video. I stood with her and went through the whole thing. She wasn't angry that we had the exhibit. She was fascinated. She said that exhibit was the only one she came to see," Shultz says.
Howell, the Connecticut tourist, was jolted most by the Kennedy assassination photos: "They surprised me. I didn't know they existed."
Psychology student Dina Castaneda, 23, of Santa Fe Springs toured the museum with a friend, Artemio Lomas, a 24-year-old computer technician from Anaheim. She said she will write a class paper for Cerritos College describing her feelings about what she saw.
"The little baby's coffin was the worst," she says, shivering at the thought of the funerary room. "It scared me."