One of the top things to do in Guanajuato, according to TripAdvisor, is see the famous Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato or “Mummy museum”.
Warning: the following is a little graphic and might upset some people. It upset us more than a little. There are plenty more pictures available via Google – we didn’t feel very comfortable taking any, so that’s why you will only find the one picture in this post.
Being museum fans and a little into the weird stuff (we are novelty chasers, after all), we were keen to learn about them.
Unfortunately, it was a lot less educational and a lot more creepy than we had anticipated.
There was a short video in Spanish at the entrance to the museum, a collage video of Guanajuato and the tombs nearby.
Then we walked into a long, black corridor and were faced with an endless display of, well, dead people.
These dead people were not wrapped in fabric, there were no descriptions to accompany them and some even had hair remaining in super-awkward places.
The bodies dry out and are preserved, thanks to the air-tight crypts they were buried in – and these aren’t ancient people, most of these people died within the last 100 years!
We tried to remain open-minded. We know the Mexicans are less freaked-out by death than us Westerners. That was, in fact, one of the draw cards of the country – we came to experience Día de Muertos or Day Of The Dead, in November, after all.
But the further in we got, the more creepy it became.
We were looking at murder victims with dagger holes in their chests, criminals who were drowned alive, a pregnant woman who was accidentally buried alive (apparently, although the Daily Mail tells a different story) “her screaming face covered by skeletal hands”…
We came across a table of babies, which we half-avoided, before seeing the museums prized piece – a 6-month old foetus, apparently the “smallest mummy in the world”.
Once we got back into the daylight, we all confirmed that the whole thing felt creepy and off – and it’s not just a reaction to dead people. I’ve seen the mummies in Egypt and the plaster casts of the dead in Pompeii, and while death makes me uncomfortable, it didn’t feel like this.
It wasn’t until we went on the Alley Tour with Pepe that we learned we weren’t the only ones who didn’t like it.
There’s a group of locals (we couldn’t tell you how many) which openly oppose the museum, he said.
It’s been voted one of Mexico’s top tourist attractions, but the reality is it contains the bodies of people whose families can’t afford to pay for, or extend, the 20-year crypt lease.
According to this blog, after a cholera outbreak in 1833, the city cemetery was filling up too quickly. The city responded with a tax that most either couldn’t afford to pay or didn’t care to pay.
The bodies were put in a local storage unit. Workers started allowing curious and morbid tourists to sneak a peak at it, for a few pesos, of course.
It was so popular, it was turned into an official museum that now costs around $50 pesos to visit – more if you want to take pictures.
It’s honestly ghastly, and the expressions on the people make it so much worse.
Take it from us – don’t waste your money on this “museum”.
Do you agree? We’re all entitled to opinions, and it’s clear even the locals disagree on whether to support this museum or not. Let us know in the comments!