Guanajuato’s Museum of Mummies—Or Are They Just Dead Bodies?

by Nancy Bestor

The beautiful city of Guanajuato, Mexico boasts many outstanding sites. This includes the Teatro Juarez—a beautiful 100+ year old performing arts theater – several stunning churches, and a great market (Mercado Hidalgo, pictured below) in an old train depot, to name just a few. But one of Guanajuato’s most popular tourist stops leaves me with mixed feelings. The Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato—Museum of the Mummies—is exactly what its name describes, a museum filled with more than 100 mummies. The mummies were residents of Guanajuato who lived from the 1850s to the 1950s. Apparently, if a family member couldn’t afford an annual fee for their beloved’s remains to stay in the cemetery, the body was dug up to make room for someone whose family could afford it. It’s these exhumed folks that were eventually put on display.

I’m not a squeamish person. But there was something a little disturbing about being in a museum filled with nothing but dead bodies. The mummies ranged from babies to the elderly, some with clothing still preserved, and others wearing very little. Most faces seemed permanently etched with a look of distress. I’ve seen mummies in other museums and crypts, but seeing so many together in a museum whose sole purpose is to display mummies was an unusual experience, and one I’m not sure I would recommend to everyone. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, so proceed with caution.The cost is about $5 per person, and the museum is at the top of a hill, a fairly easy walk from the town center.