CORNING, N.Y. (October 24, 2016) – The public is invited to The Rockwell Museum on Sunday, October 30, 2016 from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. for a celebration of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Youth 17 and Under FREE | Adults: $5. Visitors have the opportunity to reserve in advance by visiting rockwellmuseum.org/events.

  • Explore traditions of Oaxacan culture
  • Meet La Catrina, the famous traditional character made popular by Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada
  • Decorate your own sugar skulls
  • Make your own paper flowers
  • Enjoy hot chocolate with Pan de Muerto, a delicious Mexican bread often served as dessert
  • Come dressed in your own Dia de los Muertos attire, walk the red carpet, and receive a $5 Gift Card to The Museum Store!

“The Rockwell serves as a community center that values a high quality, cultural experience for visitors, residents and supporters. That’s why we’re proud to once again present our Annual Dia de los Muertos celebration, our most popular program for families and youth,” said Gigi Alvare, Director of Education at The Rockwell Museum.

Dia de Los Muertos is a festival of "welcome" for the souls of the dead. The celebration is prepared and enjoyed by the living and honors those who have passed. The customs surrounding this celebration are based on ancient traditions traced to the Aztec civilization in Mexico. The belief is that the souls of the deceased return each year to enjoy, for a few brief hours, the pleasures they once knew in life. Today, this celebration combines Native American and European customs and is primarily practiced among Hispanic, Mestizo and indigenous peoples from the American Southwest to South America.

During the month of October, middle school Spanish students from the surrounding area visit The Rockwell and create decorative objects for a Dia de Los Muertos student altar that will be installed in The Rockwell’s Student Gallery. The Museum's Education Department is in its fourteenth year of partnering with area schools and Spanish teachers in this special program. The Museum's program integrates cultural traditions with classroom education and creates an opportunity for students to connect an artistic experience with traditional learning.

The student ofrenda created by Spanish students will be on view in the Student Gallery.

In general, an altar, like the three featured The Rockwell’s exhibit, would be built in a family’s home and would be an integral part of the celebration.  A typical altar has candles and favorite foods of the deceased.  People might also place meaningful, personal objects on the altar that belonged to the deceased.  Other items found on the altars are Cempasúchil or marigolds (the floral symbol of death), paper maché pieces, images of saints, sugar skulls, and Pan de los Muertos (Bread of the Dead).  Calaveras or skeletons are widely associated with Day of the Dead and their images are common this time of year.  These popular maché or clay skeletons are often displayed doing daily activities in order to demonstrate the wit and humor of the deceased; their liveliness also reminds us of the longevity of the soul.

The program was developed through collaborative efforts with area school districts.  A very special thanks to The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes and Executive Director, Constance Sullivan-Blum who has been collaborating with The Rockwell Museum to create the Dia de los Muertos event for the past nine years.

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