Dia de los Muertos: Traditional and Contemporary Altar Exhibit

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Dia de los Muertos: Traditional and Contemporary Altars Exhibit

For two weeks, traditional and contemporary altars and art created by local artists and schoolchildren will be featured throughout the museum and in downtown Boise to celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  Dia de los Muertos, which falls the day after All Saints Day, is unfamiliar to many North Americans.  Celebrated in Mexico and other Central American countries, Day of the Dead is a festival of family memory.   The holiday is based on the belief that once a year, a deceased person’s soul returns to be with his or her family.  The spirits that visit are received with elaborate altars covered with food, photographs, flowers, and family heirlooms for them to enjoy.  The altars also contain traditional folk art with colorful perforated paper designs (papel picado), decorated candles, and skulls (calaveras) made out of sugar or paper mache. In some regions of Mexico, family members travel to cemeteries to decorate their loved ones’ graves and share a meal with the deceased.  Unlike Halloween, which comes a few days before and shares some of the skeletal imagery, the holiday is not meant to be scary.  Instead it is a celebration of memory, ancestors, and family. 

This year’s Dia de los Muertos celebration and exhibit is bigger than ever.  Altars will be displayed throughout the museum as well as downtown at the City of Boise’s Sesqui-shop at 1008 Main St.  The museum is also partnering with Wingtip Press and Boise State University to create giant woodblock banners printed with a steamroller.  These striking banners, printed at our steamroller party on Oct 12, will be displayed at the museum, Sesqui-Shop, and local businesses, throughout the week.

Join us for our grand Dia de los Muertos Celebration and Procession on Nov. 2nd from 5 to 9 pm.

The Dia de los Muertos exhibit is a partnership between the Idaho State Historical Museum, the Boise City Department of Arts and History, the Mexican Consulate, Wingtip Press, and Boise State University.