At Large  October 24, 2017  Chandra Noyes

Five Museums Bringing their Communities together through Dia de los Muertos

Courtesy the Peabody Museum

As Dia de Los Muertos approaches at the end of October, art and cultural museums alike prepare to celebrate the holiday through an array of exhibits and public programs. A traditional Mexican holiday to honor and remember the dead, learning about and celebrating this day offers a unique opportunity to blend culture, art, and history while engaging with visitors in a very personal way. Here are six museums that are connecting with their communities by celebrating Dia de los Muertos.

Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology

Harvard’s Peabody Museum has a Dia de los Muertos altar created by Mexican artists Mizael Sanchez and Monica Martinez on permanent display (seen above). The holiday gives the museum an opportunity engage their audience with this work in news ways, and to connect it with other works in their collection of Mexican folk art. The Museum offers festival days for adults and families, as well as a lecture tying Dia de los Muertos to their collection of Mayan archeological finds.

Courtesy the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History gets the whole town involved in the celebration by hosting a festival throughout downtown Santa Cruz. Activities in a local cemetery, state park and a procession through the streets, bring the Museum and this holiday out of the gallery and into the community.

Courtesy SOMArts

SOMArts

For the 18th year, San Francisco's SOMArts Cultural Center devotes a month-long exhibit to Dia de los Muertos, the theme this year being Remembrance and Resistance. Curated by René & Rio Yañez, the exhibit features more than 25 altars created by contemporary artists. Supporting the exhibit is a salon with San Francisco poet laureate Kim Shuck that addresses specific issues facing the San Francisco Bay Area Hispanic community.

Courtesy the National Museum of Mexican Art

The National Museum of Mexican Art

At the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, Dia de los Muertos: Tilica y Flaca es la Calaca is on display from September through December. In this large exhibit, “fine art and folk art are integrated... to bring to life a Mexican celebration that bridges borders." The Museum offers diverse art-making activities for adults and children, including ceramics, quilting, and paper mache.

Courtesy the Tacoma Art Museum

Tacoma Art Museum

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos for the 13th year, the Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma, Washington has invited their local community to display their own altars at the Museum. Their free community festival features dance and mariachi performances, traditional foods, and a plethora of art-making activities led by local Hispanic artists.

 

Be sure to check with your local museum's events calendar to find a Dia de los Muertos celebration near you.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra is managing editor for Art & Object.