I always try to go to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, which has an annual Day of the Dead exhibit (check out past photos from 2012, 2013, and 2015). It is the only Latino museum accredited by the American Association of Museums and also has the country’s largest Mexican art collection. So it’s fitting the museum also has one of the biggest displays of Día de los Muertos. There are numerous altars and related art by local and international artists. And that’s not it. There is also a sugar skull demonstration along with foot pedal loom weaving and wood carving, while at nightfall the museum and surrounding area is turned into an elaborate work of art, featuring visual displays that tells the story of the Day of the Dead. There are 75 ofrendas, created by community members, local artists and organizations, while people can enjoy pan de muerto and hot chocolate, musical performances, and face painting. And it’s all FREE!!!
The big bonus this year was that I had the opportunity to meet writer Sandra Cisneros, a Chicago native, who was signing books at the museum but also an altar was on display dedicated to her deceased mother Elvira Cordero Cisneros with objects from her bedroom, including books and picture frames, along with flowers to reflect her mother’s love for gardening.
In case you didn’t already know, Día de los Muertos is a day to celebrate the lives of deceased loved ones. It is believed that on this day, the souls of the dead travel back to earth. Leaving an altar with an offering for the souls ensures that they will find their way home. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the “Day of the Dead” exhibition at the museum. It is dedicated to the victims of the Pulse tragedy in Orlando, Florida; Alejandro Mondragón, the sugar skull maker from Toluca, México who demonstrated the art of alfeñique for 20 years at the museum; Mexican singer Juan Gabriel who died this past year; and victims of Chicago’s gun violence.