The Museum is housed in the adjacent thirteenth century Abbey of Santa Maria di Cerrate in the town of Casalabate about 7 km from the city. The Abbey was founded in the late twelfth century by Tancredi d’Altavilla, the Count of Lecce. Legend has it, that this is the place where the Virgin Mary appeared to Tancredi, between the antlers of a deer, hence the name (Cerrate or Cervate). The town was an important cultural and religious centre until the sixteenth century, when it was later transformed into a farm. The area surrounding the Cerrate Abbey was acquired from the province of Lecce in 1965 and was intended to house the museum and the research and study centre of folklore and popular traditions of Salento.