The Department of Art and Art History in the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin has introduced Casa Herrera, a new research, conference and teaching facility in Antigua, Guatemala, that will enable the department to expand its Mesoamerica Center.
“The Casa Herrera is a fabulous, newly renovated, educational facility strategically located in the center of Antigua, Guatemala,” says Provost Steven Leslie. “Its physical location and the excellence of our Department of Art and Art History, whose faculty will lead research and educational programs there, set the stage for The University of Texas at Austin to expand its already very strong programs in Central and Latin America. The Casa Herrera is a place where scholars from Central America and from around the world will come together for Mayan and Mesoamerican studies.”
Led by internationally recognized Mayanist and Art History Professor David Stuart, research at Casa Herrera will focus on the varied disciplines that contribute to the study of Pre-Columbian art, archaeology, history and culture. Its larger mission is to create new opportunities for education and research, aiding learning and dialogue in many fields of study, among scholars and students from multiple institutions and nations in Central America and beyond.
“There’s nothing quite like the Casa Herrera,” says Stuart. “Historically, major research centers focused on Mesoamerica have almost all been in the United States, but now we’re creating an academic institution on-site, where it really belongs. The Casa Herrera will allow scholars and students from the United States and other countries to interact and learn from one another in ways that are so exciting to think about. Guatemala and the whole region have so much to offer for inter-disciplinary studies and experiences, and the potential benefits for the university look boundless.”
John Yancey, chair of the Department of Art and Art History, says, “The Casa Herrera presents an extraordinary opportunity for the Department of Art and Art History to connect the scholarship and activities of the Mesoamerica Center to the heart of the Maya world, Antigua, Guatemala.”
The original Casa Herrera was built around 1680, and stands as one of the many architectural jewels of Antigua, the former capital of Guatemala, now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Casa Herrera property was meticulously restored in 2008 under the careful auspices of its owners, the Fundación Pantaleón, which has granted use of the facility to The University of Texas at Austin.
“Casa Herrera allows the university to enlarge its involvement with the region and establish a research and educational anchor in Central America. It provides a singular research facility for Maya scholars and Meso-American researchers from around the world, and at the same time will serve as an educational resource for Guatemala and the region,” says Doug Dempster, dean of the College of Fine Arts. “The College of Fine Arts is indebted to the Fundación Pantaleón and the Herrera family for their vision and for their generosity in joining this research and educational mission with the university.”
The large house encompasses 26 rooms that surround a central courtyard, and includes a main lecture hall, gallery spaces, digital workspaces, seminar rooms, accommodations for scholars in residence, offices and kitchen. There are future plans for Casa Herrera to house a library devoted to the art and archeology of Mesoamerican civilizations that will link in directly to the vast resources of The University of Texas library system’s Benson Latin American Collection.
Find out more about the Casa Herrera.