Dolores Olmedo Museum: Art is in the Bones

By Museo Dolores Olmedo

Detail of "Las calacas de Occidente" Day of the Dead Offering (2012) by Museo Dolores OlmedoMuseo Dolores Olmedo

The Ofrendas (often referring to both offerings and the altars on which they are placed), as we understand them, commenced during the Colonial period. The custom remained relatively hidden by the natives and mestizos, who began to integrate elements of the Catholic religion into their ofrendas.

Dolores Olmedo Museum Offering (2011) by Museo Dolores OlmedoMuseo Dolores Olmedo

The ofrendas were no longer placed in the tombs, but inside the dwelling, on the floor or on a table – hence they were called the Altar of the Dead.

Dolores Olmedo Offering by Museo Dolores OlmedoMuseo Dolores Olmedo

In 1955, Dolores Olmedo began the important tradition of placing Ofrendas and Altars of the Dead, not just dedicated to one person, like Diego Rivera, but to give homage to Mexican arts and crafts.

Dolores Olmedo Museum Altar (2009) by Museo Dolores OlmedoMuseo Dolores Olmedo

Since its opening in 1994, the Dolores Olmedo Museum invites its visitors to re-evaluate the tradition of placing Altars and Ofrendas of the dead. This temporary exhibition is one of the most emblematic of the Museum.

Dolores Olmedo Museum Altar (2015) by Museo Dolores OlmedoMuseo Dolores Olmedo

Our monumental exhibition of the Day of the Dead is divided in two: an Altar of the dead with traditional features: candles, copal or incense, cempasúchil flowers, pan de muerto, fruits, food, drink and sugar calaveritas (skulls).

Historia de la ofrenda del Museo Dolores OlmedoMuseo Dolores Olmedo

Diego Rivera and Tehuana skeletons of cartonería (2004) by Familia LinaresMuseo Dolores Olmedo

In addition, an exhibition of calacas (papier-mâché skeleton figures) which changes its theme year after year, presenting figures who are very representative of the Museum, such as Dolores Olmedo being painted by Diego Rivera for "Portrait of a Tehuana".

Detail of "De la Ciudad Luz al Mictlán" Offering (2013) by Familia LinaresMuseo Dolores Olmedo

Our Ofrendas may also dramatize other parts of the world, depending on the temporary exhibitions that are featured in the Museum.

Detail of "De la Ciudad Luz al Mictlán" Day of the Dead Offering (2013) by Museo Dolores OlmedoMuseo Dolores Olmedo

In 2013, the calacas were transported to Paris to reference our exhibition "Masterpieces of the Musée de l'Orangerie" with papier-mâché calacas that represented the artists featured in the exhibition.

The Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pool, Giverny (1899) by Claude Monet, French, 1840 - 1926Philadelphia Museum of Art

With recreations of their most famous artworks, such as Les nymphéas by Claude Monet

Detail of "De la Ciudad Luz al Mictlán" Day of the Dead Offering (2013) by Museo Dolores OlmedoMuseo Dolores Olmedo

Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette,

LIFE Photo Collection

by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Detail of "De la Ciudad Luz al Mictlán" Day of the Dead Offering (2013) by Museo Dolores OlmedoMuseo Dolores Olmedo

ans also The Luncheon on the Grass, by Edouard Manet.

Detail of "De viaje con las Calacas" Offering (2015) by Familia LinaresMuseo Dolores Olmedo

Our Altars or Offerings portray the beauty of Mexico

Detail of "Las calacas de Occidente" Day of the Dead Offering (2012) by Museo Dolores OlmedoMuseo Dolores Olmedo

Also with some characters from Mexico, like this "jimador" (person who works with the cactus from which the tequila is produced).

Un cuento de cartónMuseo Dolores Olmedo

Over more than two decades the Museum has preserved this tradition, started by Dolores Olmedo.

Detail of "Llevando el arte hasta los huesos". Day of the Dead Offering (2014) by Museo Dolores OlmedoMuseo Dolores Olmedo

Imagination, talent and creativity of Mexican artisans is also celebrated in this exhibition, that year after year attracts thousands of local and international visitors.

Altar de muertos 2011Museo Dolores Olmedo

We also recreate the different ways on which death is celebrated around Mexico.

Detail of "Los grandes del Cine de Oro Mexicano" Day of the Dead Offering (2005) by Museo Dolores OlmedoMuseo Dolores Olmedo

The Day of the Dead at the Dolores Olmedo Museum is a long tradition that renews itself year after year, which helps us celebrate life and keep in mind those who are gone now.

Credits: Story

Carlos Phillips Olmedo
Director del Museo Dolores Olmedo

Jean-Renaud Dubois Langlet
Director de Museografía del Museo Dolores Olmedo

Adriana Jaramillo
Directora de Comunicación y Relaciones Institucionales del Museo Dolores Olmedo

Aimee Guzmán García
Coordinadora de Difusión y Contenidos Digitales del Museo Dolores Olmedo

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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