Museum Highlights

Piece of the month - August 2017

 

Ceremonial huipil

Chajul, Quiché

Mayan language: Ixil

Ixchel Museum collection: MI-05892

Year of creation: 1940 c.

 

This ceremonial huipil is made of two cloth panels woven on a backstrap loom using mercerized cotton and silk. It features geometric and zoomorphic designs, such as the “two-headed eagle” symbol, which is “a motif of European origin that represents pre-Hispanic concepts: the great god who had two faces; one looking forward and the other, backward; one that saw good and the other, evil; or one that looked towards the earth and the other, towards the sky.”

(Text taken from the calendar: Textile Symbols, Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Dress, 1999)

 

 

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 (in Spanish), click on the image below.

Gallery photo-views are also accessible via a Google Arts and Culture presentation. To view them, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The collection is so renowned that the Museum has become a Google Arts and Culture partner. To admire a selection of the collection, please visit their stunning presentation by clicking here.

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).