Valladolid has a collection of colonial churches, a sprawling convent and several peaceful squares perfect for wiling away the hours, but did you know that it also had a hidden treasure? Located at Calle 40, a short walk from the main square is Casa de los Venados or the “House of the Deer”, a 17th-century residence and privately owned museum that pays tribute to the rich tradition of Mexican folk art.
Built between 1600 and 1620, this impressive casona or hacienda-style house was once the home of the Alcalde or Mayor during the Colonial period. Abandoned since 1964 and crumbling into ruin, it was purchased by American couple and former Royal Resorts members John and Dorianne Venator ten years ago and has been lovingly restored. Merida-based architect William Ramirez has blended contemporary architecture with the original colonial features and facade in a way that has won the house awards in architectural competitions in Yucatan, Mexico and in Costa Rica.
In addition to being a private home, Casa de los Venados also houses a collection of Mexican folk and contemporary art, the reflection of a lifelong passion. More than 3,000 pieces ranging from giant trees of life, ceramic jaguars and carved masks to Day of the Dead art, Frida Kahlo-inspired tiles, traditional wooden furniture and murals by local artists are exhibited throughout the house in what is one of the most extensive collections of folk art in private hands, and a joyous celebration of the creativity, color and humor of the country’s artisans.
Tours of Casa de los Venados and its collection can be arranged with a prior reservation. They usually take place at 10 a.m. and take around one hour. Visitors are asked to give a 60-peso donation to the owners’ charitable foundation to support local causes such as a clinic and community health programs, education and the arts in Valladolid.
Contact Thomas More Travel at email@example.com if you would like to arrange a private trip to Valladolid and visit Casa de Los Venados.