Monday, November 5, 2012

Accidental mummies


After an old friend and new follower* sent me the link to a video about a traveling exhibit of Mexican mummies, I researched it for blog potential and found that it had plenty...

The mummies are unusual for a museum exhibit because they are not ancient. They are 19th and 20th c. occupants of a cemetery whose remains were evicted because their relatives could not be located to pay the fees for perpetual care. They were the theme of a 1979 book by Ray Bradbury that included numerous black and white photographs by Archie Lieberman, who kindly allowed me to reproduce a few of them in my own 1998 book Modern Mummies. The 111 naturally-preserved** Guanajuato mummies have been on display in their hometown since the 1880s and in a modernized setting since 1970. In 2009, 36 of them made their American debut, with the Detroit Science Center***  as the first in a 3-year, 7-stop tour. “Death has been part of the culture of Mexico, and in particular of Guanajuato for centuries. Our Mummy Museum represents our way of acknowledging the every day citizens that once walked our streets, whose bodies have transcended generations because of a natural process. This presentation for the first time in the U.S. provides the opportunity for these mummies to tell their story, to show the way they lived, and in some instances the way they died. In this global world that we live in, we want to make sure that their story is heard beyond our borders,” said Dr. Eduardo Romero Hicks, mayor of Guanajuato, Mexico. Unfortunately, ticket sales were not up to expectations, plans were canceled, and litigation ensued. Happily for those of us with a morbid curiosity, Mexico's "accidental mummies" came out of storage this summer and can be visited at the Natural Science Center of Greensboro, North Carolina, through December 30th, 2012 (press release here).

*Hi Lidia! 
**As opposed to artificially or deliberately preserved.
***Closed with plans to reopen as the Michigan Science Center.
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Mummies on exhibit:

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