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Ixchel Museum: The Guardian of Indigenous Textiles and Clothings

The Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena (Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Textiles and Clothing) exhibits a beautiful and well-kept collection of Guatemalan indigenous textiles, showcasing colorful huipiles (traditional blouses) and cortes (traditional skirts), as well as the complex history of Guatemala.

This small yet very complete museum is housed on the campus of Universidad Francisco Marroquín, conveniently located in zone 10 of Guatemala City. Depending on how much time you have, you can go for a quick tour of the whole museum in just around 20 minutes, or you can opt to stay for a couple of hours if you wish to truly immerse yourself in the fascinating world of the Maya textiles. And if you still have more time, you can go to the the Popol Vuh Museum right next door.

The museum showcases pieces dating from the 19th Century until today, most of which where acquired through either donations from private collectors or from findings by experts. A special room jealously guards garments that are not on display, since they need to be stored under specific temperature and light conditions to optimize their conservation.

Each piece seems to speak for itself and tells a story of its own as if proudly saying “this huipil was handwoven by my grandmother. She gave it to me on a special occasion”. These unique garments woven on either a backstrap or a waist loom showcase elements of indigenous tradition by portraying images of mountains, rivers, valleys, lakes, volcanoes and the Maya cosmology.

The exposition is set up in chronological order so that visitors can experience an accurate sequential stroll around the museum as told through textile history. The Ixchel Museum focuses on the collection, conservation and documentation of the Maya textile tradition. It has over 7000 textiles from different regions of the country: starting from pre hispanic pieces handwoven with cotton thread to modern textiles made of industrial threads. In other words, it showcases a historical evolution of Guatemalan clothings. In this museum, you will find textiles more than 100 years old, with styles that no longer exist today.

The Ixchel Museum is the only institution in Guatemala that exclusively collects, preserves and conserves local textiles and offers additional features such as library services, a weaving school and art galleries. At the souvenirs shop, visitors can also find articles for sale, such as modern traditional textiles, local artists’ paintings and crafts.

Both the Ixchel Museum and the Popol Vuh Museum are open from Monday to Friday (9 am – 5 pm) and Saturday (9 am – 1 pm). General admission is Q45 ($5 approx) for adults, Q25 ($3 approx.) for students and Q15 ($2 approx) for children.

 

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