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 24, 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!
The Amazing Summer ESCAPE Challenge is an innovative family engagement initiative that reduces summer leaning loss by encouraging students and families to participate in summer learning activities throughout our community, all summer long. As a member of the Association of Visitor Attractions of Forsyth County (AVA), the MOA is proud to partner with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and other community partners to provide thousands of local families with a free Amazing Summer ESCAPE Challenge Kit and Passport.
From June through August 2014 students and families can engage in the numerous FREE and low-cost programs, including nature walks, scavenger hunts, puppet shows and more. A complete list of partner institutions and available programs can be found online at www.wsfcs.k12.nc.us/summerescape. When students participate in programs, they will add stamps to their passports. The MOA will reward student who complete the gallery scavenger hunt with a passport stamp. As students collect more stamps, they become eligible for prize drawings to be held at the Finale and Awards Celebration in August.
Please join us at The Amazing Summer ESCAPE Challenge Kick-Off event at Hanes Mall on Saturday June 21, 2014 from 10am – 2pm. At the event, students and their families begin the summer learning adventures and find out what it takes to be entered into the prize drawings. Help us fight summer learning loss and support affordable family fun in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.
For more information regarding The Amazing Summer ESCAPE Challenge, please contact Sharon Frazier, District & Title I Parent Involvement Coordinator, at or (336) 748-4000 Ext. 34225.
The AVA is a collaborative marketing organization made up of the following members: Downtown Arts District Association, Historic Bethabara Park, Historic Bethania, Korner’s Folly, Museum of Anthropology at Wake Forest University, New Winston Museum, Old Salem Museums and Gardens, Piedmont Craftsmen Gallery, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, SciWorks, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), Tanglewood Park, and Triad ECO Adventures.
The Museum has opened a new long-term exhibit entitled A Glimpse of Africa: Five Cultures from the Continent, which explores the remarkable amount of cultural diversity found in Africa by providing an in-depth examination of five ethnic groups: the Bamileke of Cameroon, the Baule of Cote d’Ivoire, the Kuba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Tuareg of the western Sahara, and the Zulu of South Africa.
Although American popular culture often portrays Africa as a homogeneous entity, it is home to at least 3,000 distinct ethnic groups. Two thousand recognized languages, representing more than 25% of all languages in the world, are spoken on the continent. Additionally, Africans are more genetically diverse than the inhabitants of the rest of the world combined. The five cultures featured in the exhibit showcase this diversity.
The artifacts on display include ceramics, textiles, baskets, masks, weapons, personal adornment, and other objects from daily life. Although the artifacts vary in age, they largely focus on “traditional” ways of life. However, several pieces provide insight as to how tradition can be transformed through internal and external influences.
The exhibit was curated by the Museum’s student employees with staff supervision. Wake Forest students Austin Brown (junior philosophy major), Chris Rinker (second year Divinity School student), and Olivia Whitener (junior Anthropology major) each created an overview of their chosen ethnic groups, selected and researched artifacts from the MOA’s extensive African collections, and composed exhibit text. As a summer employee, Chris Rinker also provided invaluable assistance installing the exhibit.
The Museum of Anthropology is pleased to announce the second year of its participation in Blue Star Museums, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America offering free admission to the nation’s active duty military personnel including National Guard and Reserve and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2014. Leadership support has been provided by MetLife Foundation through Blue Star Families. The program provides families an opportunity to enjoy the nation’s cultural heritage and learn more about their new communities after a military move. The complete list of participating museums is available at arts.gov/national/blue-star-museums.
“Although the Museum of Anthropology will continue to offer free admission to all visitors, we are excited to be able to participate in this program honoring our military personnel and thanking them for their service and sacrifice,” said Interim Assistant Director Sara Cromwell.
“Blue Star Museums has grown into a nationally recognized program that service members and their families look forward to each year,” said Blue Star Families Chief Executive Offices Kathy Roth-Douquet. “It helps bring our local military and civilian communities together, and offers families fun and enriching activities in their home towns. We are thrilled with the continues growth of the program and the unparalleled opportunities it offers.”
This year, more than 2,000 (and counting) museums in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa are taking part in the initiative.
Dr. Stephen L. Whittington has tendered his resignation as Director of the Museum of Anthropology, effective February 28. He will become Executive Director of the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville, Colorado, in March.
The Museum’s staff and students have accomplished many things under Whittington’s leadership over the past 12 years including the following highlights:
National, regional, and state award-winning publications, exhibits, website, and collections preservation efforts.
More than $400,000 in grants from agencies and foundations, including three from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and two from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Vibrant and popular K-12 educational programs that successfully weathered “No Child Left Behind” and changes to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.
Collections cataloged and inventoried in a safe and secure storage facility.
Up-to-date governing documents, including a collections plan, disaster response plan, and statement of ethics.
Improved quality and scope of collections through acquisitions, especially the MAW, Rilling, Lam, Salgo, and Wachovia Historical Society donations.
Collaborations with Delta Arts Center, Guilford Native American Art Gallery, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, St. Bonaventure University, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School District, and Wake Forest departments and offices.
Culturally diverse and increasingly empowered Advisory Board.
Regarding his departure, Whittington said, “I want to thank the members of the MOA Advisory Board and MOA Friends for their encouragement and support and Wake Forest University for providing the collections with a safe and secure off-site curation facility. I particularly want to acknowledge my hard-working and dedicated staff through the years, Beverlye Hancock, Myrna Mackin, Kim Robertson, Anne Gilmore, Sara Cromwell, Kyle Bryner, and Tina Smith, as well as numerous student employees and interns, without whom none of these accomplishments would have been possible.”
Following Whittington’s departure, an interim leadership team will take over his duties. Sara Cromwell will serve as interim assistant director with responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the Museum, and Dr. Steven Folmar, assistant professor in the anthropology department, will serve as interim academic director.
Dr. Joseph L. Graves Jr. visited Wake Forest University to present “Evolutionary Versus Racial Medicine: Why It Matters” on February 6, 2014.
Dr. Graves is the Associate Dean for Research at the Joint School of Nanoscience & Nanoengineering, North Carolina A&T University and UNC Greensboro. He is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Section G: Biological Sciences and was named to the National Science Foundation’s Sensational Sixty in 2013. He has published over sixty papers and book chapters and appeared in six documentary films and numerous television interviews.
In his presentation, Dr. Graves discussed the biological and social definitions of race. He explained how these concepts differ and why conflating the two has had disastrous consequences for biomedical research and clinical practice. Graves will also discuss why understanding basic evolutionary mechanisms are indispensable for comprehending human biological variation and how these in turn may be applied to addressing ongoing health disparities.
This event was sponsored by the Wake Forest Museum of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Department of Biology, Department of Sociology, American Ethnic Studies Program, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Center for Bioethics, Health, and Society, Institute for Public Engagement, and Humanities Institute.