Museum Highlights

Piece of the month - May 2017

 

Ceremonial Huipil

Tecp√°n Guatemala, Chimaltenango

Mayan language: Kaqchikel

Ixchel Museum collection: Julia de Plocharski (P-64)

Year of manufacture: 1940 c.

 

This ceremonial huipil is made of two cloth panels woven on a backstrap loom using natural brown cotton (cuyuscate) and silk. It features geometric motifs known as “snake or kumatz’in”. “It represents the hills that go up and down (juyu) or the ups and downs in a woman’s life.” (B. Arathoon, Sown Symbols, 2005).

 

2017 Piece of the Month Historic Archive

2016 Piece of the Month Historic Archive

2015 Piece of the Month Historic Archive

The Museum

The museum has done extensive work in the conservation and storage of its collection, but much remains to be done. “A collection is useless if the pieces are not assessed and recorded”, says Curator Emeritus Rosario Miralbes de Polanco, an expert on textiles, fibers, and dyes. “The textiles cannot be exhibited if there is no data on them or they cannot be easily found.”

Museo IxchelThe Museo Ixchel of Guatemala has its roots as the Textile Committee of the Asociacion Tikal, and was founded in 1973. In 1977, this committee spun off to become a private, non-profit museum named after Ixchel, the pre-Hispanic goddess of fertility and weaving. Its first location was a modified private house in a residential area, but the rapidly expanding collection and ambitious conservation goals soon led to the need for a new building. Its current purpose-built modern premises were opened to the public in 1993.

Museum virtual tour

The Virtual Tour of the museum was put together by the curator and a local university student. To view this video, click on the image below.

 

 

 

 

Textile collection

The world-renowned collection numbers over 6,000 woven pieces of Maya clothing from more than 115 weaving villages. It has received spectacular donations from private citizens, purchases pieces offered by weavers, and actively embarks on field research trips which both document and purchase materials.


Ceremonial Huipil. San Juan Sacatepeques. USAID GuatemalaSystematic documentation and careful storage enable this heritage to be both studied and enjoyed. Pieces from the collection are on view via permanent and temporary exhibits and are accessible to scholars and researchers. And its Pro-Teje textile committee (created in 1994) is dedicated to preserving the high-quality traditions by subsidizing and supporting groups of weavers.

Conservation

The museum has done extensive work in the conservation and storage of its collection, but much remains to be done. “A collection is useless if the pieces are not assessed and recorded”, says Curator Emeritus Rosario Miralbes de Polanco, an expert on textiles, fibers, and dyes. “The textiles cannot be exhibited if there is no data on them or they cannot be easily found.”

The conservation process is complex, spanning identification, technical assessment for status requiring restoration, photography, and storage in acid-free paper, muslin and/or boxes. Storage is done in a controlled environment which prevents damage caused by light, relative humidity, contamination and pests.  Dedicated professionals such as newly-appointed Curator Violeta Gutierrez are on staff.  For a recent interview, click here.

Conservation efforts have received grants from institutions such as the Getty Museum and the Carene Foundation of Switzerland.  For more information on the recent Su't project, funded by the foundation, see the June 2011 issue of our bulletin (in the bulletin archives section of this website).