Remembering from a previous visit to the Spanish National Anthropology Museum (Museo Nacional de Antropología) that there was a skeleton there, I decided to investigate in more detail in the light of my newly-acquired knowledge.
The museum is located on a corner just across from the Atocha railway station and next to the Ministry of Agriculture and the botanic gardens, just down the street from the Prado Museum. Being the holiday season, I was one of very few visitors. I suspect that it comes well downpeople's list of priorities when they're visiting Madrid.
|The main façade of the Museo Nacional de Antropología, Madrid|
The Physical Anthropology Room, is an attempt to recreate an example of the cabinets of natural history that were popular until the beginning of the 20th century, with examples from the museum's collection (most of the specimens of which are in storage). Each exhibit is chosen to represent features, normal anatomical variations, pathologies, injuries, and ethnic differences. The picture below shows an interesting collection of death masks of people of different ethnic groups.
|The "Origins of the Museum" Room|
|Plaster cast of the "Giant of Extremadura"|
|Skeleton of the "Giant of Extremadura"|
I was also struck by the mummified naked body of a woman laying in a glass case, with no name. The label begins "the earliest record of the presence of the mummy appears in the correspondence of..." This person was a "Guanche," one of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands. What she would think about being exposed in this way one can wonder at.
|Mummy of a Guanche Woman|
ReferencesTo see the catalogue page for the skeleton incredibly, there's no stable URL, so go to the catalogue search form and type CE5417 in the "Inventario" field (CE3332 for the mummy).
Mora, C., Antropología física. Museo Nacional de Antropología, Madrid, 1993.