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Valladolid’s new MUREM museum honors Mexico’s ethnic clothing

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
The Museum of Ethnic Clothing of Mexico, MUREM, connects us with the rich and varied cultures of Mexico through the collection, preservation, presentation, and interpretation of the unique and everyday garments of Mexicans. Photo: Courtesy

Valladolid’s Museum of Ethnic Clothing of Mexico or MUREM recently opened its doors for the first time in what they describe as “a soft opening,” but will inaugurate officially on November 26th.

MUREM is located in Valladolid’s charming San Juan neighborhood. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

MUREM is housed on a large property graciously donated by Denis Larsen. Larsen still lives on the property, on a casita adjacent to the museum near its entrance. 

The path past from the front gate is filled with wild vegetation and leads directly to the museum. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

As Larsen puts it, “MUREM is a place to understand the very broad and wide variety of Mexican clothing contemporary, historic and ethnic.”

A map of Mexico found near the entrance to MUREM illustrating regional outfits from across the country Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

For Tey Mariana Stiteler, the museum’s Director, MUREM is a project born from her love of Mexican culture and design. Born in Pittsburgh to a Mexican mother and American father, Stiteler already had an accomplished career working at prestigious museums including the Carnegie Museum of Art.

The Diverse Mexico Gallery has a collection of Mexican costumes from outside the country’s Mayan region. Photo: Courtesy

The idea to build a museum dedicated to Mexico’s ethnic clothing came when Stiteler received a donation of several beautiful pieces from Dorianne Venator, co-proprietor of Valladolid’s famous Casa de Los Venados.

MUREM’s first exhibition is called “Sowing Traditions” and shows the ways that children learn about and connect to their personal identity through traditional clothing and games. Photo: Courtesy

Stiteler shared with us her concern that “in a generation or two Mexico’s cultural diversity will be assimilated to a homogeneous blend.” She continues “so today, MUREM’s mission, and my task, is to collect, preserve, and present traditional, indigenous, and contemporary Mexican ethnic clothing in a museum that serves as a heritage center for Mexicans and non-Mexicans.”

The Mayan World Gallery at MUREM has costumes from the states where the Mayan people live in Mexico: Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Chiapas, and Tabasco. Photo: Courtesy

Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandimc, Stiteler had also started a Maya embroidery study tour to various villages in Yucatán to help keep traditions alive. “Hopefully when the conditions are right we will be able to restart this important work, remarks Stiteler. 

Tey Mariana Stiteler displays fabric exhibiting different styles of cross-stitch. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Though Stiteler is the driving force behind MUREM, she is quick to point out that she is by no means the only member of the board giving to this project her all. “We have so many wonderful people donating their time and working with us, it really is a blessing,” says Stiteler with great enthusiasm. 

Baseball players from the Jaguars of Xocen team in front of the Jaguar dance masks from the collection of Ricardo de Anda Flores. Photo: Courtesy

“I see MUREM as a way to leave a legacy. I am so proud to be a part of this great adventure and work with such a wonderful team,” says Abelardo Suárez Pérez, a volunteer and member of the museum’s directors committee.

As if starting such an ambitious museum from scratch was not enough to impress, MUREM is also building a state-of-the-art laboratory, research center, and library to preserve, maintain and restore Mexico’s rich heritage. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

MUREM relies on donations from patrons but also sells beautiful pieces of Mexican clothing and folk art to help keep the lights on.

Some of the items for sale in MUREM’s gift shop. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
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