Mexican government experts say they are concerned that a traveling exhibit of mummies from the 1800s may pose a risk to public health.
MEXICO CITY — Mexican government experts said Thursday they are concerned that a traveling exhibit of mummies from the 1800s may pose a risk to public health.
The preserved corpses were involuntarily mummified when they were buried in crypts in dry, mineral-rich soil in the state of Guanajuato. Some still have hair, leather skin and their original clothing.
But the National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement that one of the mummies also appears to have fungal growth.
The federal institute distanced itself from a decision by the state government to display half a dozen mummies in glass houses at a tourism fair in Mexico City. It was unclear whether the cases were air-tight, and the institute said it had not been consulted on the display.
“It is even more worrying that they are still exhibited without the safeguards for the public against biological risks,” said the institute.
“From some of the published photos, at least one of the corpses on display, which was inspected by the institute in November 2021, shows signs of proliferation of possible fungal colonies,” the institute wrote.
“Everything must be carefully studied to see if they are signs of risk for the cultural heritage, as well as for those who treat them and come to see them.”
The mummies are usually on display in the state capital of Guanajuato. But they traveled before, and some were exhibited in the United States in 2009.
They have been preserved naturally, some say because of the climate, rich in minerals environment, others because of the sealed crypts, although no one knows for sure. They were excavated starting in the 1860s, because their families could no longer pay the burial expenses, and they are on display.