San Juan Bautista de Coixtlahuaca

Completed Project
Oaxaca, Mexico


San Juan Bautista de Coixtlahuaca Convent was built by the Dominicans between 1545 and 1596 in the highly-ornate Plateresque style, a design popular in Spain and its colonies in the 15th and 16th centuries whose name derives from the Spanish word for silver (plata) and meant to evoke the fine, delicate work of silversmiths. The exterior of the church has a main portal framed by Corinthian columns and topped with a sculpture of the Holy Ghost. The interior of the church contains a series of paintings, most thought to be painted by Andrés de Concha, including Saint Joaquin, Christ Crucified, and the Assumption of the Virgin. There is an elaborately decorated 16th-century altar, to which Baroque details were added in the 18th century. The altar incorporates several paintings, sculptures, and other objects dating from the 16th to 18th centuries. Seismic activity, insect infestation, and limited maintenance have resulted in the deterioration of the altar and the works of art surrounding it.

How We Helped

In 2007 WMF, through the Robert W Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage, supported a project that included the conservation and stabilization of the altar, reconstruction of elements that were damaged beyond repair to match the originals, consolidation and treatment to protect against further insect and biological deterioration, conservation and cleaning of the paintings and sculptures, and documentation and publication of the restoration process. Training workshops were conducted to teach members of the local community how to perform routine maintenance work on the altar and church in the future.

Why It Matters

San Juan Bautista Church of Coixtlahuaca Convent is one of the most recognized and significant colonial churches in Oaxaca. The façade of the church is among the best representation of the Dominican Plateresque style in Mexico. The original 16th-century altar has survived and its decorative elements, which date to different time periods, represent the various styles used over the course of three hundred years. The participation of the local community in the training workshops will encourage the upkeep of the church and the preservation of its legacy.

Last updated: May 2017.


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