Day of the Dead exhibition at National Museum

PHOTOS: Embassy of Mexico

In collaboration with La Jacaranda, the Mexican Association in Singapore and members of the Mexican community, the Embassy of Mexico is organising the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore for the second consecutive year from 16 October to 2 November 2021.

The Day of the Dead is celebrated annually on 1 and 2 November. It is a time to remember and honour family, friends and ancestors who are no longer with us, thus celebrating the connection between life and death.

This year the exhibition is dedicated to the great Aztec empire and will be an opportunity to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the foundation of México-Tenochtitlán, the capital of the Aztecs (Mexicas) and the 500th anniversary of its fall in 1521.

With the arrival of the Spanish to the territory of Mexico in the 16th century, the traditions of the Mesoamerican and European cultures started to combine, creating the syncretic and particular celebration to honour the dead we have today.

Before the Spanish colonisation, the Festival of the Dead was a popular ritual celebrated by the Aztecs in July and August. It was the feast with which the Mexicas – widely known as Aztecs- celebrated the end of the harvest of beans, chickpea, corn and pumpkin, which even now are a fundamental part of the Mexicans diet.

These were part of the offerings given to the Aztec goddess Mictecacihuatl, who in Aztec mythology is the queen of Chinahmictlan and the guardian of the ninth level of hell, which the Aztecs called Mictlan.

The showcase has been well received by Singapore residents in previous years. The National Museum of Singapore said that around 5,000 people visited the exhibition in 2020, when Singapore residents enjoyed the opportunity to know more about a tradition which was inscribed in the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO in 2008.

The exhibition

The exhibition at The Salon of the National Museum will showcase two main elements: A 360-degrees pyramid of approximately 4m x 4m x 4m and a market surrounding the pyramid.

The pyramid is the central part of the exhibition as it contains the main symbols of the celebration of Dia de Muertos to the Aztecs.

The Mesoamerican cultures, like the Aztecs, built pyramids, which were representations of sacred mountains that symbolised the centre of the universe.

The pyramid at the exhibition represents Tenochtitlan’s main pyramid, the Templo Mayor, or Main Temple. The Templo Mayor used to be in what now is the city centre of Mexico City. It was destroyed by the Spaniards in 1521, but an archeological site remains in the present day historical centre.

The objective of the market display is to bring together the Aztec celebration related to agriculture and showcase some of the fruits and vegetables originally from the territory of what is now Mexico, which through trade was taken to Spain and Europe via the Atlantic and to Asia via the Pacific, the Manila-Acapulco galleon route.

Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) exhibition
WHERE: The Salon, National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897
(nearest MRT: Bencoolen, Bras Basah, City Hall)
WHEN: 16 October  to  2 November 2021
ADMISSION: Free admission

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