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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.

Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato - the mummy museum

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!

 

Mummy museum Guanajuato - Pin

  • Maxine Hamilton

    Interesting read. I had never heard of this museum before, but reading your review it does not sound tastefully done at all!

    • Nifty

      The more I read into it, the worse it sounds. I feel sorry for the families involved :/

  • Sarah Talbert

    How horrid! I mean sad the families can’t bury their dead, but isn’t it more degrading to have the victims… well victimized??
    Crazy post! Glad you went so I didn’t have to!

    • Nifty

      Yeah, I hope to just let people know what they’re in for.

  • HowNotToTravelLikeABasicBitch

    So I liked the museum and didn’t think it was that bad. But I was previously warned about it by someone who was adamantly against the museum so you’re not the only one that feels that way. I just thought the little mummy was interesting as well as the Chinese and French mummy. But like you, I didn’t take any photos bc it felt disrespectful. I can def see your point tho.

    • Nifty

      Yeah, everyone reacts to these things differently, and I didn’t think much of it until I was told more about it and read into it. But most people seem to love it so… ¯_(ツ)_/¯ ?

  • Nuraini Arsad (Teja)

    Hmm… I don’t know if I’d end up here and I’m not as disturbed by death as the average Westerner (Varanasi burning ghats for example, felt to me like just a different kind of funeral and family goodbye, with no morbid feeling watching the ceremonies whatsoever unlike what’s normally written in guides and blogs). However I don’t think I like the idea that the bodies that are displayed are simply there because they (or their heirs) couldn’t afford the dignity of burial or internment. Culturally for me, I have an aversion to that. Thank you for sharing.

    • Nifty

      That’s the bit I have an issue with, too 🙁

  • Officer Travels

    As difficult and awkward as it’s sounds… I’m still disturbingly intrigued…. Although given the source of the bodies, and how the government came about having this sort of museum, I’m not sure I could actually make myself go. Great post though!

    • Nifty

      Thanks! Yeah, intrigue lead us there. When our guide explained there was conflict over the museum, it made me look into it further.

  • Wow, a really interesting read! It’s so sad, must be horrible for the families of the dead to see them up on display!

    • Nifty

      Yea, that’s what I think, too. How guilty you would feel if you just couldn’t afford to keep the buried!

  • CHAPTERTRAVEL

    Wow, interesting… How weird that it exists even though people are against it. It must be terrible to know your loved one is put up there on display like that. Good thing you’re being so honest and wrote about it!

  • I’ve never heard of this museum until now. I’m not sure how I would feel if I went to visit this place. There doesn’t seem to be any historic purpose to this museum except just to show dead bodies. So sad!

  • Mar V Opmaco

    This museum does sound interesting, however I don’t know if I’d like to visit this… I think your description of the museum is enough for me at the moment. So sad to learn how and where the displays came from.

  • Aireona93

    I always feel a little strange about attractions like this one, because you have to wonder how the bodies were obtained, how the families feel about it, etc. This seems like it has a few of those issues, so I agree, I probably wouldn’t go.

  • I was surprised by how fascinated I was with cemeteries in New Orleans. I visited several in just a couple days, but my visits were a part of historic tours. I thought the tombs were so beautiful and ended up taking hundreds of photos. I also spent hours at the Body Worlds exhibit when it was in Boston years ago. I LEARNED a lot in both of those situations, though. I think I would feel the same way you did if I visited this museum. Thanks for writing about it!

  • Alexxa Walker

    Ya this is cray… Defs creepy, eerie and sad. Thanks for sharing, would definitely avoid after this!

  • Marge Gavan

    I’m all into the morbid stuff, but if the reason these mummies were put in the museum is because their families couldn’t afford to bury them, and not for any historical significance, then I’m not sure if I wanna go there too.