Controversy shrouds Mexico mummies exhibition

The mummified body of an unnamed lady dubbed “the witch” is on display behind bars at a museum exhibit stirring up controversy in Mexico. Visitors stop and gawk at it.

The elderly lady is one of more than 100 naturally mummified corpses on display in the central city of Guanajuato. She is dressed in a floral top and skirt and still has her golden hair streaming from her head.

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“I don’t know who decided to display the body in this way, but it has been exhibited like this for many years,” Jesus Borja, Guanajuato’s director of culture, told AFP.

People who view the mummies as a part of the city’s cultural legacy and those who believe that the display is unethical commercial exploitation have differing opinions on the exhibition.

The bodies, which also include babies, were excavated between 1870 and 2004 because a nearby cemetery was at capacity.

Local authorities labeled the deceased as “cultural heritage” after being unable to reach their family.

They now bring in about $2 million in yearly revenue for the municipality from roughly 600,000 visitors, making them an extremely lucrative tourist destination.

The mummies are housed in three museums in Guanajuato, a city famous for its colonial architecture as well as its extensive network of passageways and tunnels that date back to its mining history.

With little room between their skulls and the display lights, the majority of the bodies are displayed upright in glass cases.

In the dimly illuminated passageways of one of the museums, situated in the Santa Paula cemetery, a melancholy tune plays endlessly.

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