Annual Día de los Muertos Celebrations at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Includes a Community Ofrenda

The free celebrations are open to the community and feature dancing, poetry, music, and art activities.


EUGENE, Ore. -- (October 22, 2014) – The annual Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration returns to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the University of Oregon campus for four days of activities, on Wednesday, October 29, Thursday, October 30, Saturday, November 1, and Sunday, November 2, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. each evening. The free celebrations are open to the community and feature dancing, poetry, music, art activities, traditional Mexican ofrendas, and “Tzompantli,” an installation of contemporary Mexican art.


Dancing and poetry readings along with live music by El Son del Montón will be featured each evening as part of the celebration. In the JSMA art studio, Mexican ceramic artists Martín, Blas, and Ernesto Guevara will lead art activities for all ages.


Constructed by local students, traditional Día de los Muertos ofrendas, also known as  Day of the Dead altars , will be on display. The altar is a customary part of the holiday that is meant to honor the deceased. This year, a community ofrenda will be added to the displays - community members are encouraged to bring photos or non-valuable items to celebrate their loved ones.  Note: Items will not be returned.


“Tzompantli y otros huesos” (“Skulls and other Bones”),  a collective installation of Mexican graphic works by artists at the Taller de Gráfica del Centro de los Artes Guanajunto, will be on view in the Ford Lecture Hall. In addition to the event times, the public is encouraged to visit the art and the ofrendas during museum hours between October 29 and November 2.

Día de los Muertos, as we know it today, began thousands of years ago in the valley of southern Mexico where the Mayas, Zapotecas, Mixtecas, and Aztecas honored their dead with elaborate ceremonies, dances, and rituals. In the 16th century, when Cortez conquered Mexico and Catholicism was introduced, the religious All Saints Day and All Souls Day coincided with the indigenous Mexican celebrations, giving us the tradition of altars with food, art, candles, flowers, and photographs of the deceased alongside those of saints.

The particulars of the celebration vary widely by region in Mexico, but traditionally, on November 1, Día de los Muertos Chiquitos, the departed children are remembered. The evening is sometimes called la Noche de Duelo, The Night of Mourning, marked by a candlelight procession to the cemetery. On November 2, Día de los Muertos, the spirits of the dead are remembered. Entire families visit the graves of their ancestors, bringing favorite foods and alcoholic beverages as offerings to the deceased as well as a picnic lunch for themselves. They spend the day cleaning and decorating the grave sites and visiting with each other and other families. There are sugar skulls and toys for the children, emphasizing early on that death is a positive part of the life cycle. It is a happy occasion for remembering pleasant times with departed family members.


The event is sponsored by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Oak Hill School, US Bank, MEChA de UO, Adelante Sí, el Instituto de Cultura de Guanajuato, and el Instituto Estatal de Atención al Migrante Guanajuatense y sus familias.


About the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

The University of Oregon's Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is a premier Pacific Northwest visual arts center for exhibitions and collections of historic and contemporary art based in a major university setting. The mission of the museum is to enhance the University of Oregon’s academic mission and to further the appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts for the general public.  The JSMA features significant collections galleries devoted to art from China, Japan, Korea, America and elsewhere and Russian icons as well as changing special exhibition galleries.  The JSMA is one of six museums in Oregon accredited by the American Association of Museums.


The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is located on the University of Oregon campus at 1430 Johnson Lane. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens. Free admission is given to ages 18 and under, JSMA members, college students with ID, and University of Oregon faculty, staff and students. For information, contact the JSMA, 541-346-3027.


About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and Oregon's flagship public university. The UO is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of 62 of the leading public and private research institutions in the United States and Canada. Membership in the AAU is by invitation only. The University of Oregon is one of only two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest.


Contact: Debbie Williamson Smith, 541-346-0942,


Link: Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art,