Day of the Dead music, altars coming to Nelson-Atkins


Photo courtesy Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art by Don Ipock.

The annual Day of the Dead celebration is coming again to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art beginning Oct. 28.

The museum is collaborating with local artists affiliated with Mattie Rhodes Center to create the museum’s fifth annual Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead altar.

Day of the Dead is a Mexican tradition that encourages gatherings of family and friends to honor and remember deceased relatives and popular figures.

The Nelson’s festival will feature Son de Madera performing regional Son Jarocho music from the State of Veracruz.

A Day of the Dead altar in Kirkwood Hall will depict the four classical elements of earth, wind, fire and water depicted in sand paintings.

Here is more description from the museum:

The finished sand paintings will be surrounded by marigolds and will be similar to the “carpets of the dead” one might see near Day of the Dead altars in Mexico. Above the sand paintings, a large-scale, papel picado panel will hang from the ceiling. Papel picado is a decorative craft which is considered Mexican folk art. It is made of paper cut with elaborate designs. The designs are commonly cut from tissue paper using a guide and small chisels. In the surrounding area will be tables for community contributions. These tables will feature tabletop sculptures created by students from Plaza de Niños.  Four paper maché skeletons will hang above the tables, completing the festive design.


  •  Sunday, Nov. 1:  art activities, demonstrations, a traditional folkloric dance performance, live music, and Mexican-inspired cuisine.
  • The community altar will be located in Kirkwood Hall and open to the public from Nov. 1−15.
  • Day of the Dead altar in Kirkwood Hall, open to the public from Oct 28–Nov 15.


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