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The free celebration takes place Sunday, October 30 from 11 am to 3 pm with festive fun for the whole family.

DES MOINES, IA- The Des Moines Art Center is proud to continue a 22-year tradition of celebrating Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in person after two years of virtual programming. Day of the Dead activities honor those who came before us, our ancestors, and those we have loved and lost.

During this festive time of year, it is believed that souls return to enjoy earthly pleasures. Families honor their ancestors and the recently deceased with commemorative altars, called ofrendas, by filling them with flowers, photographs, pan de muertos (the traditional bread of the dead), candles, sugar skulls, toys, and other symbolic items.

Last year, the Art Center began a new tradition of an artist-created ofrenda for the annual Day of the Dead celebration. Iowa Artist Miriam Alarcón Avila will continue that tradition in 2022 by designing an altarpiece inspired by her upcoming exhibition “Iowa Artist 2022: Miriam Alarcón Avila” in which Avila embraces the imagery and spirit of luchadores ancestors and Dia de los Muertos.

Lucha libre and Día de Los Muertos are cultural parallels of Mexican origins. The word lucha has a double meaning as both the name of the popular wrestling sport, as well as the ability to use your whole heart and soul to overcome struggles and obstacles. “The beginning didn’t start here. Our ancestors followed the path, opening the way and creating the space that allows us to be here now,” Avila says.

The ofrenda designed by Avila will be on view October 29 through November 14, 2022 in the museum’s lobby. The Day of the Dead celebration takes place Sunday, October 30 from 11 am to 3 pm with festive fun for the whole family. The event is free.

Food and Drink

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Enjoy free Mexican hot cocoa and pan de Muerto (traditional Day of the Dead sweet bread). Tamales Industry, La Michoacana, and Tangerine at the Art Center will have food and drinks for sale.

Art Activities

Create your own paper flowers and luchador masks in the art studios.

Musical Entertainment

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Enjoy performances and music by Guitarras ATM, a Latin jazz and mariachi band from Des Moines, and DeeJay Lizz.

Mariachi Los Aguilares playing in the celebration of the Day of
the Dead 2019 at the Des Moines Art Center.
Photo by Tar Macias/Hola Iowa

Free Shuttle

Take advantage of easy parking and a free shuttle from Merrill Middle School running continuously from 11:30 am to 3 pm.

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And More

Stay for a memorial film highlighting the lives of Gonzalo and Jesse Cortez, Daniel Garza, and Dr. Lorenzo Jasso.

Participate in a creative writing activity.

Shop Día De Los Muertos décor and merchandise to take home from The Shop at the Art Center.

Support for the Des Moines Art Center’s Day of the Dead event is provided by Homesteaders Life Company and Iles Funeral Homes.

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