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Art Museum’s Hall Case Galleries transformed for ‘Day of the Dead’ remembrance exhibition

October 6, 2010

Photo of cemeteryNIU’s Art Museum is pleased to present a “Day of the Dead” artist invitational from Thursday, Oct. 21, through Saturday, Dec. 4. The public is invited to an opening reception from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21.

NIU alumni and student artists have been invited to create Day of the Dead altar pieces in honor of deceased artists and loved ones. Participants include Chicago fiber artists Michelle Ramirez and Christian Ortiz, DeKalb sculptor and printmaker Eric Fuertes, printmaker/performance artist Ramon Soto and sculptor John Medina. 

Programming in conjunction with this exhibition will include Get-On-The-Bus trip Friday, Nov. 5, to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago and a film and discussion night from 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, at the Egyptian Theatre. The featured film is Julie Taymor’s “Frida” starring Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina. NIU professors Michael Gonzales and Linda Saborio will facilitate the discussion.

It is said that the spirits of the deceased return to loved ones who remember them on the Day of the Dead. The tradition has been observed for centuries in Latin American countries and is especially popular in Mexico, where families honor their dearly departed generally from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. The first day of November is dedicated to remembering deceased children, while the following day honors adults.

Families travel to cemeteries, where they tidy up and decorate relatives’ tombstones. They bring the deceased person’s favorite foods, eat, reminisce and often spend the night there. They set up altars at the grave sites and even more elaborate ones at home featuring photos, their loved one’s favorite objects and tiny skeleton figurines shown going to market, dancing, getting married and doing other activities the deceased person enjoyed.

Located on the west-end first floor of Altgeld Hall, the galleries are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and by appointment for group tours. Exhibitions and lectures are free; donations are appreciated.

The exhibitions of the NIU Art Museum are funded in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, the Friends of the NIU Art Museum, and the Arts Fund 21.

For more information, visit or call (815) 753-1936.