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The Dennos Museum Center

Calaveras, Ofrendas, y Altares: Arte del Día de los Muertos

Skulls, Offerings and Altars: Art of the Day of the Dead

September 2007 – February 2008

Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is an annual celebration which honors the ancestral spirits of the Mexican people. On November 2, the living and dead are believed to be reunited. During the same time of year as Halloween, this event also has religious origins and incorporates the use of skulls, skeletons and costumes. In contrast to Halloween with its ghoulish qualities, Día de los Muertos is not a morbid occasion, but rather an extravagant celebration that acknowledges the cycles of life and death. The two main rituals that mark el Día de los Muertos are the preparation of a family altar and the decoration of graves in the cemetery. Rituals and imagery reflect the interweaving of Spanish and Indian cultures into a uniquely Mexican fiesta.

This exhibition explored the aesthetic of the Day of the Dead in Mexican Folk Art. Objects from the collection of David Thomas and from the Michigan State University Museum beautifully illustrate the variety, color and excitement of a wonderful tradition.