Open today 10 am – 5 pm

Celebrating 10 Years of Dia de Los Muertos at the Penn Museum

October 01, 2021

Jill DiSanto, Public Relations Director


Dancer from a Dia de los Muertos performance

PHILADELPHIA—In partnership with the Mexican Cultural Center and the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia, the 10th annual CultureFest! Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, showcases Mexico’s vibrant traditions, Saturday, October 23 at the Penn Museum, 11:00 am-4:00 pm.

CultureFest! Día de los Muertos offers live music and dance performances in historic Harrison Auditorium, a 614-seat venue with plenty of room for social distancing between families:

  • 11:20 am - Aztec Pre-Hispanic Dance Kalpulli Kamaxtle Xiuhcoatl
  • 12:15 pm - Ballet Folklorico Yaretzi (dance)
  • 1:30 pm - Los Huachinangos (music)

As a part of CultureFest! Día de los Muertos, guests can enjoy Global Guide tours of the Mexico and Central America Gallery led by a guide from Mexico, storytelling, a 15-minute “Daily Dig” artifact spotlight in both English and Spanish, a community altar contest, and make-and-take art activities.

“Pan de Muerto” (Day of the Dead bread) and Mexican hot chocolate will be served at 3:00 pm in the Mosaic Garden.

“This is our 10th year of collaborating with our fantastic community partners, the Mexican Cultural Center and Mexican Consul of Philadelphia, to bring greater awareness for Día de los Muertos. CultureFest! is often an introduction to important traditions that people may not have known about before,” says Tena Thomason, Associate Director of Public Engagement at the Penn Museum. “CultureFest! welcomes people of all backgrounds to connect with stories from the many cultures represented in the Museum’s collections—from firsthand perspectives.”

The centerpiece of CultureFest! Día de los Muertos each year is a meaningful work of art that marks one of the most important traditions during Day of the Dead in Mexico. Designed by internationally recognized artist Cesar Viveros, an exquisite monumental ofrenda —an elaborate communal altar—is erected in the Rotunda to honor those who have passed.

All on-site CultureFest! Día de los Muertos activities are included with Museum admission.

In addition, the Penn Museum will offer virtual programs:

Tuesday, October 19, 6:00 pm
Blood and Chocolate (online lecture)
Cacao, an important part of ancient trade and exchange, was also used in religious rituals.
(Cost: $5)

Friday, October 22, 11:00 am
Virtual Passport Day
Open to at-home learners and K-12 classrooms, celebrate Mexican history and culture online.
(Cost: $3 per student; $50 per classroom--up to 30 students)

Virtual Global Guide Tour of the Mexico and Central America Gallery
Friday, October 22, 2:30 pm
Global Guides share their own personal stories and experiences plus historical information.

At-Home Anthro LIVE! La Ofrenda: Elements of the Altar
Tuesday, October 26, 1:00 pm
Children ages 5-12 will discover how the riches of the country’s geography connects to the deep meaning of la ofrenda (the altar), learn about each element of the altar, and add one-ofa-kind designs as they create-their-own personalized drawing. (Free)

The entire line-up can be found here.


About the Penn Museum
The Penn Museum’s mission is to be a center for inquiry and the ongoing exploration of humanity for our University of Pennsylvania, regional, national, and global communities, following ethical standards and practices. Through conducting research, stewarding collections, creating learning opportunities, sharing stories, and creating experiences that expand access to archaeology and anthropology, the Museum builds empathy and connections across diverse cultures.

The Penn Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 am-5:00 pm. It is open until 8:00 pm on first Wednesdays of the month through March. The Café is open Tuesday-Thursday, 9:00 am-3:00 pm and Friday and Saturday, 10:00 am-2:00 pm. For information, visit, call 215.898.4000, or follow @PennMuseum on social media.