Des Moines Art Center “Recuerdos” celebrates Day of the Dead in new ways in 2021


The Des Moines Art Center is proud to continue their 21-year-tradition of celebrating Day of the Dead. While preserving the safety of visitors due to COVID-19 means the event, which can attract up to 3,000 visitors, will not be held in-person for 2021, the Art Center strongly believes in the importance of respecting and commemorating loved ones who have passed, as well as finding new ways to connect with and celebrate the Latino/Latinx community of Des Moines, work that is more vital than ever.


One new way the Art Center is fostering this commitment is by inviting a local Latinx artist to create the traditional ofrenda in the museum’s lobby, a job that had been historically taken on by the Day of the Dead committee and Art Center staff. This year, artist and Executive Director of Al Éxito Dawn Martinez Oropeza will be creating an ofrenda inspired by the tlilpapalotl (monarch butterfly) and their significance to the indigenous Nahuatl people native to Southern Mexico and Central America.


Other programming includes:


  • Ofrenda created by artist Dawn Martinez Oropeza will be on view in the lobby of the Des Moines Art Center October 19 – November 4.
  • Honoring lives lost to COVID-19 this year instead of celebrating one honoree, the Des Moines Art Center will be sharing a series of short videos created by Vince Valdez featuring several members of the Latinx community who have passed due to COVID-19. A memorial slideshow of names of loved ones submitted to the Des Moines Art Center will also be on view at
  • Free Day of the Dead Activity Kits will be available for families wishing to learn more about the tradition of honoring loved ones who have passed. Kits will be available at local Des Moines Public Library branches (Central, East, Forest, Franklin, North, and South) October 25 – Limited supplies. Visit to learn more.
  • Storytime and Activity in-person storytime featuring children’s books written by Latinx authors and Day of the Dead bookmark art activity will be held at the Des Moines Art Center Saturday, October 9 with storytimes at 10:30 am, 11:30 am, and 2 pm.
  • Virtual Celebrations on and the Art Center’s Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube channels will offer additional ways to learn and celebrate Day of the Dead throughout October and the first week of November, including a virtual performance with Mariachi Los Aguilares, ofrenda reveal, and more!

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