John C. Pitzer

John Pitzer almost singlehandedly built the SNOMNH's Mayan textile collection. What began as a sporadic and informal relationship between Pitzer and the museum developed into the type of partnership of which most museums dream.

Pitzer started donating Mayan textiles to the museum in the 1980s. Though he had no formal training in textile arts, he knew what he liked and had an eye for quality. Pitzer continued donating textiles to the museum in the ensuing years.

Most important to Pitzer was developing a collection of Mayan textiles that was representative of all the Mayan areas and of all the clothing styles in these areas. Thus, the collection includes clothing from the highlands and the lowlands, from women and men, from adults and children, from everyday clothing and outfits worn on special occasions.


Even a brief conversation with Pitzer conveyed his excitement about Mayan textiles. And this excitement was extremely contagious. Through his efforts, Pitzer recruited other donors, raised funds to support the development of the Mayan textile collection, and established strong relationships with museums and textile vendors in Mexico and Guatemala. He envisioned that the SNOMNH's Mayan textile collection would become one of the premier collections in the world. Thanks to his efforts, this is now a reality. As it stands, the Mayan textile collection in the largest single collection in the SNOMNH's Division of Ethnology.

This web site shows only a fraction of the collection that John Pitzer assembled, but in its present web-based format, the museum is able to display more of the textiles and present more detailed information than could be provided in a traditional gallery exhibit. Also, this format will allow people all over the world to view and appreciate the Pitzer collection. Mr. Pitzer was incredibly excited about the exhibition of these textiles, as well as the possibilities of a digital exhibit. Unfortunately, Mr. Pitzer passed away shortly before seeing this exhibit become a reality. He was traveling in Mexico and Guatemala at the time, adding to the museum's growing collection of Mayan textiles.

This web site was created by Rhonda S. Fair, during her time as a graduate research assistant in the SNOMNH's Division of Ethnology, under the supervision of Dr. Jason Jackson, curator for ethnology. The web site was created using Macromedia Dreamweaver 4 for Macintosh. Photographs of the entire Pitzer collection of Mayan textiles, some of which are featured in this exhibit, were taken by Ms. Fair as part of this project. These photographs were edited with Adobe Photoshop 5.0 LE for Macintosh. Fair's position was funded by the SNOMNH. The invaluable service of cataloging and describing each of the textiles donated by Pitzer was provided by Yoana Walschap. Trained in the analysis of textiles, Ms. Walschap meticulously analyzed each item as it was donated. Her position was funded through donations by Pitzer and his associates.