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Oakland Museum of California Launches Free Virtual Programming Celebrating El Dia de los Muertos Throughout October

(OAKLAND, CA) October 8, 2020—This October, Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) will mark the 26th anniversary of its beloved El Día de los Muertos celebration with a series of free digital programs honoring Days of the Dead traditions that audiences can enjoy from home, including a virtual community celebration, a virtual field trip for families and students, and a virtual exhibition with highlights from the popular 2019 exhibition ¡El Movimiento Vivo! Chicano Roots of El Día de los Muertos.

In a year marked by collective loss, grief, and mourning—the experiences of COVID-19, wildfires, economic hardship, and the ongoing fight for racial and social justice—the traditions of El Día de los Muertos offer a space of healing and comfort. For over 25 years, OMCA has honored this holiday with an annual community festival created in partnership with OMCA’s El Día de los Muertos Volunteer Committee that attracts up to 5,000 visitors to the Museum and gardens each year. This year, the Museum is continuing its beloved annual tradition with a free virtual community celebration on October 25 from 2-3 pm PST.

This one-hour celebration will feature Mesoamerican traditions of ritual, music, dance, and ofrendas (altars) that help make sense of the context of this year and how traditions can heal and comfort, while teaching viewers how to build an altar for loved ones who have passed. After the event, viewers can enjoy a multigenerational conversation between teen Isabela Perez and the founding curator of OMCA’s Days of the Dead special exhibition, Bea Carrillo-Hocker, learn how to make papel picado with educator Rebecca Rocco, and explore ofrendas honoring those we mourn with the Omnira Institute. This virtual program is free with an RSVP via Eventbrite.

Launching October 15, visitors to the Museum’s website can experience a free virtual tour highlighting selected content from OMCA’s 2019 special exhibition, ¡El Movimiento Vivo! Chicano Roots of El Día de los Muertos. Inspired by the Chicano activists who introduced El Día de los Muertos traditions to the United States in the 1970s, this experience will provide historical context that honors and explores the lesser-known origins of Day of the Dead, and the ways these traditions continue to inspire social and political change today.

On October 30, OMCA will offer a live El Día de los Muertos Virtual Field Trip with performance group Cascada de Flores, a free educational experience designed for school groups and families. In advance of the program, OMCA will release virtual field trip resources in mid-October featuring interviews with Latinx community members and OMCA curators, and a hands-on, screen-free papel picado activity. Visitors can explore the diverse traditions, stories, and indigenous heritage of El Día de los Muertos, while learning how this holiday is a source for cultural strength, healing, and social change. 

“For the past 26 years, OMCA’s El Día de los Muertos Community Celebrations have brought Oakland’s community together to learn about and honor this healing tradition,” said Cynthia Taylor, Associate Director of Public Engagement. “This year, join us in celebrating from home as we transform our own homes into sacred spaces of healing and connection. In partnership with our dedicated, year-round, and multigenerational El Día de los Muertos volunteer committee, we are excited to offer these traditions of colorful ofrendas and ceremonia alongside our community of neighbors, artists, altarists, dancers, musicians, and ritualists.”

Visit throughout October for more information and program details.

OMCA Festivals are made possible in part by generous support from the Oakland Museum Women’s Board and the Koret Foundation.

OMCA extends gratitude to the commitment and expertise of the year-round
El Día de los Muertos Volunteer Committee members.

¡El Movimiento Vivo! Chicano Roots of of El Día de los Muertos is supported by the Oakland Museum Women’s Board.

School programs and tours made possible in part by generous support from the Oakland Museum Women’s Board and The Clorox Company. Additional support is provided by Matson Navigation Company, Pixar, Dodge & Cox, Morrison & Foerster Foundation, Port of Oakland, and Union Bank.


OMCA at Home
While OMCA may be closed to the public, we are committed to doing what we do best—staying connected with our community. Explore virtual exhibition tours, playlists and virtual Friday Nights at OMCA content, videos exploring past exhibitions and events, educational resources for students and teachers, favorite works from OMCA’s collection, and more at OMCA at Home.

Dorothea Lange Digital Archive
Dorothea Lange (1895–1965) was one of the most important artists of the 20th century. She documented American life with riveting, intimate photographs that captured the human face of national events. Through a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Dorothea Lange Digital Archive curates and interprets a selection of Lange’s work for the first time in a digital format.

Though rooted in historical events, Lange’s photographs make powerful connections to important themes and events of today. Above all, they demonstrate how empathy and compassion—focused through art—can sway minds and prompt change. Explore the archive at 

Dorothea Lange: Photography as Activism
Virtual Exhibition Tour
Experience the iconic life and work of Dorothea Lange, world-renowned documentary photographer, with an expanded installation of her works in the Gallery of California Art. Through the lens of her camera, Lange documented American life with riveting photographs that captured some of the most powerful moments of the 20th century. Drawn from Lange’s personal archive, which was gifted to OMCA over 50 years ago, and in response to the popular 2017 exhibition Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing, a number of newly added photographs will illustrate the power of photography as social activism. See how Lange’s work continues to resonate with millions and inspire new generations of artists and activists.

In Conversation: Artists Consider Dorothea Lange
Virtual Program
Coming Soon to OMCA at Home
Learn about the ways in which Dorothea Lange’s photography has inspired and shaped contemporary artists and thinkers with this special digital program. Join Bay Area artist Hung Liu, one of the most prominent Chinese painters working in the United States today, and photographer and videographer, Paul Kitagaki Jr., whose grandparents were photographed by Lange in 1942, in a discussion led by OMCA’s Curator of Photography and Visual Culture Drew Johnson. Learn about Lange’s photographs in OMCA’s Gallery of California Art as part of a new installation Dorothea Lange: Photography as Activism, meet the artists and gain insight into their artistic practices, and connect with stories from across time and communities.

Black Power
Virtual Exhibition Tour
Uncover the history of the Black Power movements in California with a compelling addition to the Gallery of California History. In response to the widely-popular 2016 exhibition All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50, this new installation will illustrate the creative ways black anti-racist activists in California supported their communities and challenged the U.S. government. Focusing on the example of the Black Panther Party, Black Power will bring to light the tensions between a culturally and socially progressive California and examples of economic racism and oppression in the state. This moment in California history will be represented through historic photographs, provocative objects, iconic posters, paintings and interactive prompts that encourage visitors to take action out in the world. Learn more about the Bay Area role in this national story, and the impacts this history continues to have today.

You Are Here: California Stories on the Map
Virtual Exhibition Tour
We all use maps in our everyday lives—to navigate public transportation, find places to eat, and visualize big data like weather patterns or political opinions. But have you ever considered the deeper stories maps tell us? In You Are Here: California Stories on the Map, you’ll discover there’s more to maps than meets the eye. Showcasing a diverse range of maps from Oakland, the Bay Area, and California—from environmental surroundings and health conditions to community perspectives and creative artworks—experience how maps can be a powerful tool to share unique points of view and imagine a better future. Explore new perspectives of familiar places through maps made by the community, and mark your own stories on the community map inside the exhibition.

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) tells the many stories that comprise California, creating the space and context for greater connection, trust, and understanding between people. Through its inclusive exhibitions, public programs, educational initiatives, and cultural events, OMCA brings Californians together and inspires greater understanding about what our state’s art, history, and natural surroundings teach us about ourselves and each other. With more than 1.9 million objects, OMCA brings together its multi-disciplinary collections of art, history, and natural science with the first-person accounts and often untold narratives of California, all within its 110,000 square feet of gallery space and seven-acre campus. The Museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year as a leading cultural institution of the Bay Area and a resource for the research and understanding of California’s dynamic cultural and environmental heritage for visitors from the region, the state, and around the world.


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