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Dia de los Muertos at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art


Visiting Artist Creates Fantastical Creatures for Dia de los Muertos at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Kansas City, MO. Oct. 20, 2023–Mexican artist Miguel Bolivar has spent five weeks in Kansas City creating, with the assistance of community groups and volunteers, an array of brightly colored, fantastical creatures that will be on view for the museum’s popular Dia de los Muertos festival.

Portrait of Miguel BolivarThe larger-than-life alebrijes, creatures that represent one’s spirit, join traditional altar elements for the annual event. The innovative design, led by Bolivar, received major support from Museo de Arte Popular, Mexico City, and the Consulate of Mexico in Kansas City. The altar display will be presented in collaboration with local artists, area students, the Guadalupe Center High School Impact Academy, and Mattie Rhodes Cultural Center.

“This is truly, for me as a Mexican, one of the most heartfelt and personal of all the festivals the Nelson-Atkins presents each year,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Director & CEO of the Nelson-Atkins. “Miguel’s imaginative creations will transform Kirkwood Hall for this memorable celebration of the loved ones who have gone before us.”

Bolivar, originally from the city of Durango, has been artistically curious and a lover of color since he was a boy. Although he is also an architect and designer, he considers himself foremost a creator. He constantly learns new techniques and is fascinated with the creation of light in his luminous alebrijes, which are extremely popular with the public. He has exhibited fixed and articulated pieces multiple times at the International Festival of Lights with great success. In 2019, he collaborated in the creation and design of monumental alebrijes exhibited at the Lille 3000 Festival in France.

The Dia de los Muertos altar at the Nelson-Atkins will be on view Oct. 27 through Nov. 6, and the festival, featuring performances, hands-on activities, and demonstrations, will be held Nov. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Miguel Bolivar will be present from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to talk about his experience with this year’s altar display. The complete schedule includes:

  • Strolling Calacas 10:15-10:45 a.m.
    Snap a picture with women dressed in one-of-a-kind costumes and elaborate makeup and hair designs.
  • Los Bailadores de Kansas City 10:30 –11:15 a.m.
    See dancers perform with beautiful handmade clothing.
  • Rose Marie’s Fiesta Mexicana Noon*–12:45 p.m.
    Experience traditional styles of Mexican dance by a local group founded in 1965.
    *Special welcoming remarks precede noon performance
  • El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco 1:30–2:15 p.m. & 3–3:45 p.m.
    Enjoy traditional dances representing various states in Mexico.
  • Pueblos Originarios de Oaxaca Market demonstrations 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
    Artisans from Oaxaca, Mexico demonstrate weaving traditions.
  • Art activity 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
    Decorate and color a Día de los Muertos paper mask.
  • Traditional Mexican crafts demonstration by Virginia Oropeza 1–4 p.m.
  • Puppet-making demonstration by local artist Sue Moreno 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • Fashion show by Pueblos Originarios de Oaxaca Market 10:30-10:45 a.m. & 11:30—11:45 a.m.
  • Grupo Folklorico Alma Tapatia dance performance 10:45-11:15 a.m.
  • State of Sinoala dance performance by Grupo Folklorico MiSol De KC 11:45 a.m. — noon
  • Dia de los Muertos dance performance by Grupo Folklorico MiSol De KC 12:15 — 12:30 p.m.
  • Mariachi Fuego of Kansas City 12—2 p.m.
    Enjoy lively mariachi music.
  • Atzlan 2:30–3:30 p.m.
    Experience the acoustic stylings of Aztlan.
  • The Tamale Kitchen Food Truck North Plaza Drive
    Serving fresh tamales and soft drinks.
  • Special books, resources and activities in the museum’s Educator Resource Center and Spencer Art Reference Library.

The museum’s collaborators, Guadalupe Center High School Impact Academy and Mattie Rhodes Cultural Center, are also featuring activities at their respective locations.

Guadalupe Center High School Impact Academy:
Oct. 27th from 5:00-9:00 pm
Guadalupe Centers Administrative Building
1015 Avenida Cesar E Chavez

Mattie Rhodes Cultural Center:
First Friday, October 7, 2022 – Exhibit Opening & Celebration
First Friday, November 4, 2022 – Exhibit Closing & Calaca Night Parade

Día de los Muertos is presented by

Photo credit: Joshua Ferdinand

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City is recognized nationally and internationally as one of America’s finest art museums. The museum opens its doors free of charge to people of all backgrounds.

The Nelson-Atkins serves the community by providing access to its renowned collection of more than 42,000 art objects and is best known for its Asian art, European and American paintings, photography, modern sculpture, and Native American and Egyptian galleries. Housing a major art research library and the Ford Learning Center, the Museum is a key educational resource for the region. In 2017, the Nelson-Atkins celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Bloch Building, a critically acclaimed addition to the original 1933 Nelson-Atkins Building.

The Nelson-Atkins is located at 45th and Oak Streets, Kansas City, MO. Hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Friday through Monday; 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Thursday; closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Admission to the museum is free to everyone. For museum information, phone 816.751.1ART (1278) or visit nelson-atkins.org.

For media interested in receiving further information, please contact:

Kathleen Leighton, Manager, Media Relations and Video Production
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art