The Quirky Museum in Baños: The Dead and the Decaying

Baños, Ecuador

We’re on our last week here in Baños. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here a month. It’s sad to think that soon we’ll be leaving our newfound friends behind and once again we’ll be facing the unknowns and the unexpected that our travel will bring.

We’ve spent our month here in Baños wisely, we think. We’ve volunteered our time working with the kids of Baños (more on this later) and both Jack and I have improved our Spanish by taking private lessons. We now know how to express our confusions in words other than mute blank stares (boo yah!).

We’ve gone canyoning in Rio Blanco. We’ve gone on bikes down the La Ruta de Las Cascadas.

And we’ve discovered the more unusual sight that Baños has to offer.

Such as:

The Museum by the Basilica

This is when I realised that on top of my interest in cemeteries and old churches, I also have a soft spot for badly curated museums.

Of the many rooms here, my favorite is without a doubt the animal room.

Museum in Baños

Museum in Baños

It’s filled with decaying stuffed animals arranged in the weirdest dioramas. Complete with fake blood and all.

museum in Baños museum in Baños

Some of the animals are missing appendages, but hey… as long as the visitors get the gist of what they’re looking at.

What am I looking at?
No idea. There’s no information card of any kind. How did these animals end up here? Nobody can tell.

But wait, there’s more…

There’s a smaller room attached next to it filled with shelves and shelves of preserved animals. In all shapes of jars and pots. The embalming liquid in most of them has evaporated and these poor dead animals are slowly rotting away in their plastic tombs.

Preserved animals in Baños museum

It’s awesome!

If you like that kind of stuff.

It was so good I passed through the animal room twice to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

The rest of the museum is filled with very colorful robes and odds and ends such as donated pink Quincinera baskets, kid-sized sailor uniforms, or random plastic trucks and cars.

Museum in Baños

Yes. Toy cars and toy truck. In a church museum.

Why not?

Is this place worth checking out?

Is it worth the $1 admission fee?
I think so. Maybe not enough to warrant a second visit, but it’s still a cheap price to pay for a 40 minute trip to absurd-landia.

Info box
Location: next to the Basilica in Baños, Ecuador, second floor.
Price: $1

Valuable Resources

  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, for those who love anything weird and offbeat.
  • Resource Toolbox: How I find cheap flights, accommodations, and other travel hacks.

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20 Replies to “The Quirky Museum in Baños: The Dead and the Decaying”

  1. How did you miss the fact that those weren't toys and they weren't plastic. They were hand-made from matchsticks. And they are ofrendas. Just as the random colourful dresses we're likewise made with love as an offering to their patron saint, The Virgin, meant to clothe her statue during their most important religious display of the year. Though, I suppose everything seems mundane and quirky after the hall of horrors taxidermy.

  2. I LOVE museums like these! I visited one in London and couldn't get enough of the crazy taxidermy. Although, I have to say, with the angle you got the monkey, it looks like it has wings.

  3. I can't decide if this is terrifically awesome or horrifically terrifying.

    Either way, I also would be pretty bummed to be leaving a museum like this behind.

  4. This is good…soooo good! I love museum like this – where stuff doesn't make sense, and you're not sure why the museum is there but are so unbelievable happy that you found it.

  5. Those stuffed animals are just so terribly awful and yet sort of amazing. I'm cringing while laughing and I can't look away! If I saw them in person I'm pretty sure I'd have at least one nightmare with them playing a central role.

  6. Oh my…I so want to visit that museum when I am in Banos next month! It looks strangely awesome. It reminds me of a museum I visited in the middle of nowhere in Mongolia – it was similarly curated and the owner, who didn't speak a word of English, took us through the few small rooms, pointing out bizarre objects that had no apparent purpose but were clearly special to him. It was such a fun but odd way to spend an afternoon.

  7. Oh I just love weird museums! Those decaying animals are creepy though! Can't say that I remember this museum though from all the time I spent in Banos as a child… then again, maybe I was just too young!

  8. That is one creepy museum. I'm not sure if it is weirder than the rock museum I encountered in Colonia. At least dead stuffed animals are interesting, and it requires more effort than walking outside, bending over, and picking up a rock to put together an exhibit.

  9. Ha!! LOVE it! We just saw some awfully taxidermed (sp?) animals in a roadside attraction in Utah. The ones in your photos are true gems. Thanks for sharing!!

    (Ted and I love the demented stuff like this too. However, I was not so pleasantly surprised by plain old decaying dead birds lying everywhere on the banks of the Great Salt Lake).


  10. This is hilarious! In a wierd kind of way. My favourite is the first picture…a monkey? Not too sure. I like the very obvious stitching down the front. A friend of mine is making a zombie film at the moment for an arts project…she will love this!

  11. That is too awesome! Should I end up in Baños, after food is consumed that place would be an immediate second! Some of that stuff was just too surreal. That zombie-looking deer/anteloupe/?? is definitely my favourite shot out of all of them.

  12. Okay, so this place is right up my alley. As demented as I am, I was really diggin' the animals in all their stuffed and freakish glory. Especially the poor little monkey that looks horrified-like he's begging you to him with you!

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