A Swatch of M.A.R.I. History


About the Institute and Exhibit Program

Founded in 1924, the Middle American Research Institute (M.A.R.I.) at Tulane University strives to promote greater understanding of the vibrant and diverse cultures of Mesoamerica, the area encompassing much of Mexico and Central America.

The Institute stewards an extensive collection of textiles, artifacts, and ethnographic materials and an archive of letters, field notes, maps, and photographs gathered during field projects and given by generous donors. M.A.R.I. endeavors to make these collections visible and accessible to researchers, students, and the general public through exhibitions, workshops, symposia, and scholarly publications.

Each semester, M.A.R.I. interns explore and research the Institute’s photographic collections. The culmination of their hard work is a photo exhibit displayed in the hallway outside the main gallery. These exhibits have covered a wide range of topics showcasing the people and material culture of Mesoamerica.


A Swatch of M.A.R.I. History

This photo exhibit displays textiles that were collected in highland Guatemala by Matilda Geddings Gray on a Tulane Expedition in the 1935 accompanied by photographs that document the trip. Special attention is given to the daily articles of clothing for both men and women, the costumes of the cofradía in religious ceremonies, and the value of textile weaving and the marketplace in everyday events.

The Matilda Geddings Gray Collection of Guatemalan textiles at M.A.R.I. represents some of the oldest textiles in M.A.R.I.’s extensive collection of over one thousand Mesoamerican textiles. With the deliberate intent of collecting all the pieces worn together as an outfit, this collection is unique in demonstrating complete sets of traje as they were worn for both daily life and special occasions.


Date Exhibited: Spring 2016

Location: M.A.R.I., 3rd floor of Dinwiddie Hall, Tulane University

Acknowledgements: The exhibit was designed by Archives Intern Hannah Hoover and supervised by Erin Patterson, M.A.R.I. Archive Manager. It was converted to digital format by Max Dambach.


Exhibit Sections