Just 2 weeks ago I visited the 56 mummies displayed here in a clean, temperature-controlled setting. Among them is the world’s smallest mummy--a 5- or 6-month-old fetus. All were formerly interred in the adjacent municipal cemetery, where because of rocky ground and dry mountain air many corpses do not decompose but instead dry out (they are not wrapped like Egyptian mummies). Though families can pay for perpetual burial, not everyone can afford this, so to free scarce cemetery space law permits “deadbeats” to be dug up after 7 years. In the past, the occasional disinterred mummy found in good shape was placed on exhibition in the museum, but the practice of disinterring the poor ended in 1958. Currently corpses are displayed in glass cases, which prevents the repeat of incidents in which tourists snapped off a finger or toe as a souvenir. But souvenirs are still available—traditional candies that resemble a corpse are sold by vendors just outside. The museum opened in 1952.
More things to do in Guanajuato.
Travel articles to inspire and help you plan trips.
image c2009 Carole Terwilliger Meyers