Junco Palace Provincial Museum in Matanzas exhibits, among its main pieces of interest, the only Cuban mummy exhibited in a museum.
The Provincial Museum Palacio de Junco is located in a building from 1838 that belonged to one of the richest owners of Matanzas: Don Vicente del Junco and Sardiñas, owner of large tracts of land, sugar mills and black slaves.
In 1970, because of the dilapidated state in which it was located, the building passed to the revolutionary government and the Directorate of Heritage undertook its reconstruction to open its doors as a museum in 1980.
It is part of the set of buildings of the nineteenth century that are located around the Plaza de la Vigía, declared a Local Monument on December 31, 1981.
Since 1939 Matanzas´s people asked for a museum that would pick up its history. It was precisely on June 5, 1959 that the Revolutionary Government issued resolution number 28 by which it created the historical museum and an annexed library.
The coveted museum expanded and shaped its funds quickly and finally on September 6, 1959 the museum institution opened its doors occupying a part of the Sauto Theater. In the same building would also be the “Enrique Hart Dávalos” library (specialized in Matanzas history) and the Office of the Historian of the City.
Relocations of the Junco de Matanzas Palace Provincial Museum.
The constant increase in funds was a serious conservation problem in a space as small as the two rooms occupied by the museum exhibition at the Sauto Theater.
The matter worried the authorities. One possibility was opened in 1963 when the “Gener y Del Monte” Library moved to the headquarters of the old Spanish Casino, because then the building on the Middle Street, corner of Matanzas, a large site, with a solid construction framework and full of cultural history, was free .
The museum was moved there in September. This spatial change allowed to increase the number of his rooms to five; among them one of Weapons, a Colonial and another of Epigraphy.
From 1968 the museum closed its doors and did not open them again until January 1, 1973 when it was reinstated again, this time on the corner of Contreras and City Hall streets, in the left wing of the historic Government Palace building.
On that occasion, the collections were distributed in 8 rooms and the exhibition offered the visitor an intense historical panorama that began in 1693 with the facts related to the foundation of the city and ended in April 1961 with the defeat aimed at the invading mercenaries in The Zapata Peninsula.
Five years later the institution was closed again. On that occasion, the administrative measure was due to a practical reason: since some time ago it was working on the restoration of the Junco family mansion, built in the first half of the 19th century, in the Plaza de la Vigía with the idea of installing the museum there .
The construction work was completed in 1979 and then, the pieces were moved to their next headquarters. The pieces that would be concentrated in the Palacio de Junco did not go much beyond a hundred.
In that moment it was necessary to start a campaign at the village level to cover an exhibition that was projected in a three-storey building and with the purpose of covering the entire historical process of the province from the primitive stage until culminating in 1974 with the founding of the Organs of the Popular Power.
On December 14, 1980, the first two floors were opened to the public; on January 28, 1981, the third. Among the main pieces that are exhibited in the museum can be mentioned an important set of pieces of Cuban archeology that includes samples of burials, vessels, work instruments and ritual objects; a stocks (instrument for the torture of slaves) and the remains of a black bighorn; the machete of Major General Pedro Betancourt and the gun of Juan Gualberto Gómez; the only specimen of white aura, which gave rise to the legend of the poet Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda; the notebooks of the great Cuban malacologist Don Carlos de la Torre; armchair, cane and other belongings of the National Poet Bonifacio Byrne; the table at which the transfer of Spanish sovereignty to North American sovereignty was signed in Matanzas; belongings of the assailants to the Goicuría Barracks located in the extension room as well as the only Cuban mummy exhibited in a museum.