The green quarry stone facade of the Oaxaca Textile Museum, like the exteriors of many of the city's restored colonial buildings, gives no clue as to the treasures inside. Step through the door and immerse yourself in the vivid colors, dynamic textures, intricate patterns and varied forms that textile traditions can take.
The Textile Museum presents a wide variety of exhibits showcasing the common threads that run through textiles from around the world, with an emphasis on weaving within the Mexican arts tradition. You can take a free guided tour, attend a conference, or learn how to decorate a T-shirt with natural dyes. Before you leave, be sure to check out the shop where you can buy high quality hand-made textiles and other products.
The Oaxaca Textile Museum is located just a few blocks from the zocalo at 917 Hidalgo Street, in a historical building that was constructed on what were previously the grounds of the Dominican convent of San Pablo. The two-story baroque Oaxacan mansion dates to the 18th century. It survived a demolition attempt in 1985 that caused outrage from locals and historians. That project was averted, but the building faced danger again in 2002 when the real estate agency that had acquired it destroyed its interior. The Alfredo Harp Helu Foundation stepped in and purchased the building along with the former convent of San Pablo, located just across the street (now functioning as a cultural center), 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.
The museum's main purpose is to study, preserve and promote the textiles of Mexico and the world. Besides exhibit rooms, it also contains a conservation workshop, textile storehouse, education center and library. After touring the museum you might want to visit the villages surrounding Oaxaca city where textiles are produced and can be purchased directly from the artisans who made them.