Smithsonian Latino Center Announces Fifth Annual Day of the Dead Celebration

October 23, 2013
News Release

The Smithsonian Latino Center, in partnership with the University of Texas El Paso, presents its fifth annual Latino Virtual Museum “Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos Festival” in Second Life, a 3-D avatar-based virtual world, Oct. 30 to Nov. 2. This four-day online event features activities celebrating this popular Latin American holiday. The festival is hosted on Second Life, courtesy of UTEP, using the LVM’s digital collections that illustrate customs and beliefs from ancient Mesoamerica to today’s Latino culture. Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout Mexico, Central America and in many Latino communities in the U.S. as a way to honor deceased family and friends by creating altars or ofrendas, which include traditional foods, sugar skulls, marigolds and materials that the deceased enjoyed while alive.

This year’s festival will feature altars dedicated to Smithsonian Latina curator Marvette Pérez, boxer Hector Macho Camacho, musician Eddie “La Bala” Pérez, singer Eyde Gorme, World War I veteran Marcelino Serna and Chicano scholar and author Gloria Anzaldua. Visitors can participate through the LVM’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, UStream and Tumblr media channels. Live art, music and cultural performances from artists and writers throughout the country will be featured, including artist and writer Xánath Caraza. One festival highlight is an ancient Mesoamerican ballgame dating back 3,500 years, which can be played using avatars on one of the museum’s virtual islands. Participants can organize their own ballgames with friends and family throughout the festival. Other activities include altar-building, an open-mic poetry reading, a fiesta de las calaveras (skeleton party), a costume contest, a crystal skull dance party, live music streams from real community events and a film festival.

“Our collaboration with UTEP lets Latino students and general audiences participate in fun and innovative programming utilizing the latest online technology and social media,” said Melissa Carrillo, Smithsonian Latino Center director of New Media and Technology. In addition to these cultural activities, educators will have access to online resources, including Smithsonian Latino digital collections, a Day of the Dead user’s guide and glossary, lesson plans, resource links and a website featuring an altar-building interactive and video tutorial from last year’s festival.

For more information on the LVM “Day of the Dead Festival,” and for a complete listing of events and a map, visit latino.si.edu and click on the sugar skull icon. For more information, visit lvmdayofdead.tumblr.com/.  

The Smithsonian Latino Center ensures Latino contributions to arts, sciences and the humanities are highlighted, understood and advanced through the development and support of public programs, scholarly research, museum collections and educational opportunities at the Smithsonian Institution and its affiliated organizations across the U.S. For more information, visit latino.si.edu.

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SI-428-2013