The Museum of Anthropology has celebrated Day of the Dead with exhibits, lectures, and other programs for nearly 20 years. This year, Life After Death: The Day of the Dead in Mexico will be on exhibit from September 16 through December 12. The Museum will also introduce new local collaborators for Day of the Dead programming.
The Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos, is celebrated in Mexico over several days coinciding with the Catholic observances of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days (November 1 and 2). The observance has roots in both ancient pre-Hispanic celebrations and medieval Spanish Catholic practices, and has evolved to feature a blend of elements from both traditions. The celebration is considered a festive time when families remember their dead and honor the continuity of life.
Last year, the Museum introduced new text and a new title for the annual bilingual exhibit. Life After Death: The Day of the Dead in Mexico now includes more information about the celebration’s history, skeleton-themed folk art, and regional variations in observance. As always, the centerpiece of the exhibit is a traditional Mexican ofrenda, an altar with food and beverage offerings, flowers, candles, sugar skulls, and photos of deceased family members. The exhibit also includes a children’s ofrenda with toys and snacks; a wide selection of folk art including ceramics, wooden toys, and cut paper; and a photo essay illustrating the celebration in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. The Museum welcomes patrons to contribute to the exhibit by placing photos of deceased family and friends on the altar.
The Museum’s programs center around a new collaboration with the Hispanic League and Sawtooth School. First, the Museum staff will be at the Sawtooth School on Friday, October 24, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for the Adult/Child Sugar Skulls class. The Museum will provide background information about the Day of the Dead celebration, as well as objects and photographs to inspire the participants. Each adult/child pair will get to decorate one sugar skull. Visit sawtooth.org for information and to register. The next event is the Day of the Dead Excursion on Saturday, October 25, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The program will start in the morning at the MOA with an educational presentation and in-depth guided tour of the Life After Death exhibit. After an authentic Mexican lunch at the Museum, participants will move to the Sawtooth School for a workshop where veteran mask maker Martina Moore will guide them through each step of the creative process to produce a Day of the Dead inspired mask. Participants will have the option of displaying their masks in the MOA’s exhibition through early December. The excursion is open to ages 14 and over. Visit sawtooth.org for information and to register. We hope to see you this fall!