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Guanajuato Mummy Museum - Museum Guanajuato - Mexico

Aficionados of the spooky, gruesome or simply bizarre will not want to miss a trip to the Mummy Museum in Guanajuato. Unlike most of the other mummies housed in museums around the world, the ones in Guanajuato are not ancient: most of them died (roughly) between 1880 and 1940. There are two key factors that led to the natural creation of mummies in Guanajuato.

The first factor was the policy of the local cemetery in Guanajuato at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Anyone wishing to bury a deceased relative in one of the tiered nooks in the cemetery had two options: they could buy the nook outright (for 170 pesos) or rent it (for 20 pesos per year). If the nook was rented, the family had to keep their payments current, or the occupant of the nook could be evicted to make room for someone else: generally, cemetery workers waited for three years of unpaid rent before hauling someone’s bones out of their “final resting place.”

If someone’s corpse was evicted, their remains were generally stored in a special room until his or her relatives showed up to claim the body or make other arrangements. Needless to say, not everyone was claimed and the bodies began to pile up.

The second factor that contributed to the creation of the Guanajuato mummies is climate. Because Guanajuato is hot and dry, some of the bodies (particularly, it seems, those interred in middle nooks as opposed to those on the top or bottom) became dried out and desiccated before decomposing, sort of like human beef jerky, only without the teriyaki flavor. It was a natural and unintended mummification process. Many of the mummies still wear the clothes they were buried in. They’re highly creepy: their mouths are almost all open, as if they’re screaming, and one mummy is said to have been buried alive: her crossed arms and scratches on her forehead seem to support the theory. There are a handful of mummified babies as well.

In the early 1900’s, the cemetery watchmen and caretakers figured out that tourists and visitors to Guanajuato would pay them to allow them into the storage room to look at the mummies. The storage room became an unofficial museum at first and then an official one later. In 1958, the laws changed, and deadbeat corpses are no longer evicted, but the original mummies are still on display. The mummies biggest 15 minutes of fame came with the campy 1970 movie Santo Versus the Mummies of Guanajuato, in which a superhero pro wrestler (Santo) and two of his friends vanquish an army of mummies intent on destroying Guanajuato. Since the movie, the museum has been a hugely popular tourist attraction.

Guanajuato, Mexico


Travel Tips:

Price Description: Admission: about $2, more if you want to take photos or videos.

Relative price: Budget

Open Hours from:9:00 am

Open Hours to:6:00 pm

Contact Information:
Phone: 473/732-0639

Here are other activities in and around Guanajuato that may be of interest: Museo Ex Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera, Museo del Pueblo de Guanajuato (Town of Guanajuato Museum) and Diego Rivera House and Museum.

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
13 Feb 2007

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