The "Joaquín Díaz" Ethnographic Centre was created in 1985 as
a result of an agreement between the "Diputación Provincial" of Valladolid
(Provincial council) and the folklorist Joaquín Díaz whereby he
made over his collections (prints, "pliegos de cordel", library,
recordings and instruments) and had them to be displayed in the eighteenth century mansion
the provincial council owns in Urueña.
The current building was inaugurated in March 1991 and since then, its research collections have been open to scholars and its museum display to the general public.
Library and Sound Archive
The Library (over 16.000 books) specializes in the oral tradition
("Cancioneros", "Romanceros", fairy tales, legends, proverbs, sayings,
riddles, tongue twisters, popular literature, etc.). It also contains
books about crafts, trades, chalcography, costumes, popular theatre,
instruments, dances, games, agriculture, ethnography, architecture,
local tales, etc).
The Sound Archive and Video Library house field-work recordings mainly from Valladolid and the provinces of Castile and León, in addition to about 1500 records of folklore music from all parts of the world.
Musical Instruments Museum
The Museum houses the most extensive and comprehensive collection
of traditional musical instruments from Castile and León, comprising
seven hundred pieces made over or donated by collectors.
The collection is divided into the four conventional families of instruments (Aerophones, Idiophones, Chordophones and Membranophones). There is also a video tape showing various interpretations by traditional instrumentalists, a number of whom have now passed away.
Pliegos de Cordel
About two hundred songs, "romances" and documents, mainly from the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, chosen from among the three thousand odd items kept in the library, are displayed on eleven boards according to the most common themes: adventures, crimes, religion and superstition, sensational events, etc. The "pliegos" were printed by typographers from all parts of the country ("El Abanico","Universal", "Rodas", "Norte", "Santaren", etc.) and hawked by blind singers, hucksters and pedlars.
The Museum also displays over one hundred pictures chosen among nearly five hundred illustrations kept in the Centre. They represent men and women from the nine provinces of Castile and León, clad in ordinary and festival garb. They are drawn from travel books, picture collections and artistic publications in Spain, France, England, Germany and Italy in the past three centuries.