Day of the Dead Celebration, Saturday, November 2 at the Penn Museum

Renowned Artists Cesar Viveros, Philadelphia, and Joel Garcia, Mexico City, Join In

La CatrinaThroughout Mexico and around the world, Day of the Day (Día de los Muertos) brings family and friends together to pray for and remember loved ones who have died. Far from a morose affair, Day of the Dead is a celebration, rich in traditions and connections—it is at heart a celebration of life.

On Saturday, November 2, 1:00 to 4:00 pm, the Penn Museum presents the second annual Day of the Dead Celebration, with pageantry, music and dance, storytelling, paper maché artistry, sugar skull and mask making, face painting, special foods, and more. Central to the afternoon, visitors can shake hands with a newly created 16-foot "La Catrina" (Elegant Skull) puppet, and view a large Day of the Dead altar honoring Mexican cartoonist, illustrator, and "La Catrina" creator Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852–1913).

Everyone is invited to bring a photo and a memento of their own to place at a communal altar, remembering the passing of a loved one.

The Mexican Cultural Center, the Eyes Gallery, Casa Monarca, Spiral Q Puppet Theater, and Philadelphia community members join the Museum to make the festive celebration, all free with Museum admission, come alive. Al Día Media and GPTMC are additional sponsors.


Altar with BonesDay of the Dead altars honor the lives of those who have passed. Creating these altars is one of the most important traditions during Day of the Dead in Mexico—and in Mexican-American and Latino communities worldwide. The modern Mexican holiday is a rich blending of traditions, its origins traced back to beliefs and activities of indigenous peoples of Central and South Mexico, as well as Catholic celebrations of All Saints Day and All Souls' Day.

The altars have three levels: one for food and flower offerings to those who have died, and one that touches on religious traditions, including the pre-Hispanic tradition that to remember someone is to "bring them back" among the living.

The final level dedicates the altar to someone. This year, in honor of the centenary of his death, the altar honors Mexican cartoonist and illustrator/artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, 1852–1913. Posada, a keen political commentator, is best known for his famous rendering of La Catrina—the Elegant Skull, an image now synonymous with the Day of the Dead celebration.

Featuring artwork from the Eyes Gallery, the altar will be created by renowned Philadelphia artist Cesar Viveros, and Mexican Cultural Center Director Cecilia Humphreys. Complementing the altar, a giant puppet, created by Ms. Humphreys with support from Spiral Q Puppet Theater, brings La Catrina vividly to life.

Renowned Mexico City artist Joel Garcia, a featured artist at the Eyes Gallery whose brightly painted paper maché creations have been seen in galleries and museums throughout Mexico and the United States, joins the celebration, demonstrating his work. He is most famous for his interpretation of characters found in the works of Jose Guadalupe Posada, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo. Mr. Garcia's colorful muertos adorn many an altar during Day of the Dead festivities.


Kids' activities at the Day of the Dead CelebrationGuests of all ages can join in the celebration, with sugar skull making, mask making, and face painting activities all afternoon, and special programming that begins at 1:30 pm, with storytelling (also at 3:30 pm). Students from the University of Pennsylvania share their perspectives on Day of the Dead traditions at 2:00 pm.

A Day of the Dead ceremony brings pageantry to the event at 2:30, featuring children from Philadelphia's Casa Monarca, joined by La Catrina. Fuego Nuevo dancers perform traditional Mexican dances at 3:15 pm.

Traditional "pan de muerto" bread and spicy hot chocolate, Maya-style, are part of the festivities, and guests are invited to sample both, while supplies last!

Penn Museum's Mexico and Central America gallery, featuring art and artifacts from the ancient Maya and other pre-Hispanic cultures of the region, is adjacent to the festivities.

The Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 300 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage.

The Penn Museum is located at 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (on Penn's campus, across from Franklin Field). Public transportation to the Museum is available via SEPTA's Regional Rail Line at University City Station; the Market-Frankford Subway Line at 34th Street Station; trolley routes 11, 13, 34, and 36; and bus routes 21, 30, 40, and 42. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and first Wednesdays of each month until 8:00 pm. Closed Mondays and holidays. Admission donation is $15 for adults; $13 for senior citizens (65 and above); free for U.S. Military; $10 for children and full-time students with ID; free to Members, PennCard holders, and children 5 and younger.

Hot and cold meals and light refreshments are offered to visitors with or without Museum admission in The Pepper Mill Café; the Museum Shop and Pyramid Shop for Children offer a wide selection of gifts, books, games, clothing and jewelry. Penn Museum can be found on the web at For general information call 215.898.4000. For group tour information call 215.746.8183.

Image captions (top to bottom): During the Penn Museum's second annual Day of the Dead Celebration on Saturday, November 2, visitors can shake hands with a 16-foot "La Catrina" (Elegant Skull) puppet, newly created by Mexican Cultural Center Director Cecilia Humphreys with support from Spiral Q Puppet Theater (image courtesy of the Mexican Cultural Center); Depicted here is a Day of the Dead altar created by artists Cesar Viveros and Ana Guissel Palma. Day of the Dead altars are created to honor the dead and are central to Mexican Día de los Muertos celebrations. Viveros will create a traditional altar in the days leading up to the Museum's second annual Day of the Dead Celebration, Saturday, November 2 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm (photo courtesy of Cesar Viveros); Guests can have their faces painted in traditional styles during the Penn Museum's second annual Day of the Dead Celebration, Saturday, November 2 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm (photo: Penn Museum).


3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-4000


Tuesday-Sunday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
First Wednesdays: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Monday: CLOSED


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