Museo de la Medicina Mexicana – Cuauhtémoc, Mexico - Atlas Obscura
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Cuauhtémoc, Mexico

Museo de la Medicina Mexicana

A scientific repository of goiters, boils and other ailments throughout Mexican history. 

Museo de la Medicina Mexicana isn’t the kind of museum that you visit to see paintings of water lilies.

Instead, the museum—housed in the gentile 18th-century Palacio de la Escuela de Medicina—displays some of the most gruesome and graphic wax replicas imaginable: a face full of boils, a screaming man in the middle of a torturous, medieval curing and plenty of bacteria-eaten genitals.

Although these waxes are not for the squeamish, their purpose is not for shock. With displays ranging from the spiritual to the magical to the scientific, the museum traces the advancement of Hispanic medicine throughout the ages to illustrate how Mexicans’ views about health and healing changed throughout history.

Some of the more appetizing displays are of temazcal, or Mexican saunas used to sweat out spiritual impurities, and an accurate model of a 19th-century pharmacy. Most people probably go for the wrapped-in-science gore, however, which can be found in way-too-lifelike reproductions of various ailments—many of which are thankfully archaic today. The museum will make you glad to see how far we’ve come.

Know Before You Go

Downtown Mexico City.