[Images: Lynda Felton]
The Textile Museum in Oaxaca (Museo Textil de Oaxaca) is in a beautifull colonial–era building that itself was constructed on the grounds of the former Dominican convent of San Pablo. This two-story baroque Oaxacan mansion dates to the 18th century and was restored as part of its mandate to save the city's historical center and create new cultural spaces. The restoration project began in 2007 and the museum was inaugurated in 2008.
Today, the museum's main purpose is to study, preserve and promote the diversity of textiles of the indigenous people of Mexico and the world. Besides exhibit rooms, it also contains a conservation workshop, textile storehouse, education center and library.
During my visit, the museum featuried two exhibits. The first showcased artists from an embroidery collective who created a 35-foot long tapestry that paid tribute to Mexico’s history of the making of fibers, cloth and other textile goods. This tradition goes back to at least 1400 BCE — and the style of embroidery of the Otomi women in the Tenango Valley of Hidalgo, Mexico can be traced back to pre Aztec Meso-America.
In the second exhibit, a group of artists, scientists and students teamed up to explore the possibilities of combining historic textile techniques with new digital tools. This collaboration is also dedicated to encouraging research in the areas of communication and "soft computing" in the assessment of textile arts as an integral component of human experience.