The National Museum of Mexican Art is keeping its annual Day of the Dead exhibit alive.
“It’s like a big family reunion, and includes those who are no longer living,” said Cesáreo Moreno, chief curator and visual arts director of the National Museum of Mexican Art.
In its 34th year, the “Sólo un poco aquí: Day of the Dead” exhibition at the National Museum of Mexican Art wants the public to know that while they are honoring loved ones lost due to the coronavirus, it’s always a celebration of life.
“On Nov. 1 and 2, we welcome back the dead and keep them alive so that the next generation can know them,” Moreno said. “We say their names. We talk about what they did. We acknowledge them. And in a very beautiful way, their oral story is passed along.”
The exhibit would normally feature authentic artwork from Mexican artists, including traditional ofrendas, or altars. This year, the artwork comes from both the museum’s personal collection and local artists.
“Offer goodies and all kinds of things to souls that we’re welcoming home,” Moreno said. “They have a lot of symbolism. Maybe a glass of water, candles, flowers, sugar skulls, food. Those are the main elements. This year they picked social issues in society and focused on those. Ideas of immigration, the BLM movement and social unrest.”
Despite being closed to the public, the museum is offering virtual tours.
“It’s a tour where there’s a camera person who goes through the gallery, a tour guide and people can ask questions,” Moreno said. “We've reached classrooms as far away as California, plus local Chicago public schools, universities, and other groups.”
But the exhibit doesn’t stop there. The museum is also offering online activities and workshops that offer perspective on the celebration of life.
“It allows us to look at life and death, and really accept them as one in the same.” Moreno said. “In other words, there is no life without death and vice versa. It’s a holistic way to understand the inevitable.”
The museum is offering virtual tours through Dec. 13. For more information about the exhibit, visit the National Museum of Mexican Art’s website.
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Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.