The not-to-be-missed Casa de los Venados (House of the Deer) is an 18,000 sq. ft. private home/museum of Mexican folk and contemporary art owned by John and Dorianne Venator, who spent nearly ten years renovating this masterpiece of colonial architecture in Valladolid. There are over 3000 pieces of art in this collection.
Valladolid is experiencing a dramatic new growth in tourism. It is being noticed because of its immaculate Centro Histórico, excellent hotels, wonderful new restaurants, and its proximity to beautiful cenotes and fascinating archaeological sites such as Ek Balam. Casa de los Venados has also become a “must” on any visit to Valladolid. Earlier this year, Gloria Guevara, Mexico’s Tourism Minister, said, “the house is a major national cultural tourism site because it has the largest collection of museum quality Mexican folk art in private hands.”
“We especially love Mexican folk art because of its strength and artistic simplicity and integrity,” explains John. “We have acquired most of our collection directly from the artists, and have established a bond of friendship with many of them over our 35+ years of collecting.”
John and Dorianne looked for an old colonial house with lots of space for their ever-growing art collection. After searching many parts of Mexico, they decided Valladolid was the best choice: tranquil and safe, with friendly people and good public services. They simply “fell in love” with the house they found and wanted to make it their full time residence.
The museum benefits the community in many ways. They open their home every day for tours, thereby helping Mexico to achieve its national goal of increasing cultural tourism. The house and its architect have won four major architectural awards in the last 2 1/2 years, which has created an interest for architects and architectural students to come on field trips.
“Many people who see our collection of quality folk art are inspired to begin their own collections, thus increasing the market for artists,” adds Dorianne.
The Venators hold concerts and artistic performances at the house, which are open to the public, as well as opening the house for major special events held by the Governor of Yucatán, the Mexican National Minister of Tourism, the Minister of Tourism of Yucatán, and the mayor of Valladolid.
“The legacy will continue after we are gone,” explains John. “The house, the collection, and an endowment will pass on to a private foundation which is charged with continuing to use the house as it is currently being used to the public benefit.”
Tours (in English and Spanish) are given most days at 10 am but advance reservations are advised. Tour participants are asked to make a minimum donation of $90 pesos which goes to local charities, such as the Clínica San Lucas (which does surgeries for people with limited resources) and the local Lion’s Club project (which buys and fits hearing aids for children from low-income families, so they will have a better chance of receiving a quality education), as well as to other charities through the couple’s own charitable foundation. Casa de los Venados is also available for private parties and events.
Calle 40 #204 x 41, a few steps from the main square
Tel. (985) 856 2289
Video: youtube.com “Casa de los Venados Valladolid”