Just five short months ago, we spent some time with the LSU Textile & Costume Museum as part of our “Day in the Life of the Arts.” The museum was preparing for its post-renovation return to campus. And although the museum did have to cancel its planned grand opening this Sunday, August 29, the doors of this hidden gem will still open to the public on Monday, August 30, showcasing the recent work put into renovating the space, as well as its newest exhibition.
“Before the building wing was transferred to the LSU Textile & Costume Museum, it was the site of the LSU Child Development Laboratory Preschool with all of the furnishings, walls, window and cabinetry required for that usage,” says museum director Pam Vinci. “The renovation resulted in a space now fully furnished and fully functional as an exhibition gallery.”
The main attraction: the “Trajé: Maya Textile Artistry” exhibition, which features items donated by Travis Doering, a faculty member at the University of South Florida, including textiles and artifacts from 40 Mayan villages in the Guatemala highlands. From colorful, backstrap loom-woven huipiles (blouses), cortes (skirts), cintas (headdresses), rebozzos (shawls) and fajas (belts), the handwoven clothes on display represent an important legacy not just to the history of dress, but to the indigenous culture that flourished in Mesoamerica and reached its peak from 250-900 A.D. with an estimated population as high as 10 million people.
“It showcases the brilliant colors and patterns found in Maya traditional dress,” says curator Jenna Kuttruff. “Trajé, or traditional dress, has deep cultural significance to the Maya people. The tradition of weaving and use of symbolism has been passed from mothers to daughters for hundreds of years and supports the legacy of craftsmanship that defines the Guatemalan Maya culture. The strong colors used in their textiles reflect the strength of the Maya people.”
Guests can also view accompanying photographs by Connie Frissbee Houda, a New York photojournalist known for documenting the contemporary Mayan people and their surroundings.
As for the future, a series of guest speakers that had been planned before the return of COVID safety measures will be rescheduled and announced when the time arrives. In the meantime, visitors can pop into the museum on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., as well as on the first Sunday of each month. To stay updated on this and other news from the museum, visit lsu.edu/textilemuseum.