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Oakland Museum of California Marks 20 Years of Exhibitions and Community Celebrations for Days of the Dead with Songs and Sorrows: Días de los Muertos 20th Anniversary

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(OAKLAND, CA)Commemorating 20 years of one of the most engaging, dynamic, and popular observances of Days of the Dead, Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) will present Songs and Sorrows: Días de Los Muertos 20th Anniversary, an exhibition running October 8, 2014 through January 4, 2015 in the OMCA Gallery of California Art. Artistic and community voices from the past, present, and future will come together for this year’s Días de los Muertos exhibition, marking two decades of the Oakland Museum of California’s commitment to uniting Bay Area communities around healing and remembrance.

Co-curated by OMCA Curator of Public Practice Evelyn Orantes and Guest Curator Bea Carrillo-Hocker, Songs and Sorrows will highlight contributions from pioneers of Días de los Muertos celebrations in the Bay Area and newer voices that continue to evolve this living tradition. The exhibition will include works from Jose Guadalupe Posada, Carmen Lomas Garza, and Jesse Hernandez, among others. Community groups including students and faculty from Oakland School of the Arts, Skyline High School, and Maya Lin School in Alameda will create papier mache masks inspired by the Linares Family of Mexico City and Guatemalan kites of remembrance as ofrendas. In addition, 20 important works from the collection of The Mexican Museum and from the history and art collections of OMCA will enhance the exhibition and enrich the centuries-old story of Days of the Dead as it has evolved from pre-Hispanic through colonial and into our own time.

The 20th Annual Days of the Dead Community Celebration, taking place in the Museum gardens on Sunday, October 26, 2014 and featuring food, dance, music groups, colorful altars, and more, brings the community together for this healing tradition. For more information about the exhibition, community celebration, and other Days of the Dead public programs, visit

“During the past 20 years of our commemorations of Días de los Muertos, Oakland Museum of California has brought together and partnered with an increasing community of artists, historians, schools, non-profit organizations, and the public,” says OMCA Curator of Public Practice Evelyn Orantes. “This year we are grateful for the participation of an amazing group of artists who are creating new work for the exhibition. We are also honored to partner with The Mexican Museum, which is loaning us pre-Hispanic, popular art and Chicano pieces that together with objects from OMCA’s collections will help tell the stories of Días de los Muertos with richness and depth.”

Examples of newly commissioned work in the exhibition include:

Songs and Sorrows: Días de los Muertos 20th Anniversary is made possible in part by generous support from the Oakland Museum Women’s Board, Kaiser Permanente and the California Arts Council. The 2014 Days of the Dead Community Celebration is made possible in part by generous support from Kaiser Permanente and the Oakland Museum Women’s Board.

Celebrated annually between October 31 and November 2, the Mesoamerican tradition of Days of the Dead or Días de los Muertos is widely associated with iconic and colorful elements—such as sugar skulls, marigolds, and altars—or ofrendas—arranged or created in honor of deceased loved ones. OMCA’s annual Days of the Dead Community Celebration has been one of the Bay Area’s most popular community events, drawing thousands of participants yearly.

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) brings together collections of art, history and natural science under one roof to tell the extraordinary stories of California and its people. OMCA’s groundbreaking exhibits tell the many stories that comprise California with many voices, often drawing on first-person accounts by people who have shaped California’s cultural heritage. Visitors are invited to actively participate in the Museum as they learn about the natural, artistic and social forces that affect the state and investigate their own role in both its history and its future. With more than 1.9 million objects, OMCA is a leading cultural institution of the Bay Area and a resource for the research and understanding of California’s dynamic cultural and environmental heritage.

The Oakland Museum of California is located at 1000 Oak Street in Oakland, California. ­­­­­­Museum admission is $15 general; $10 seniors and students with valid ID, $6 youth ages 9 to 17, and free for Members and children 8 and under. Admission during Friday Nights @ OMCA is half-off for adults, and free for ages 18 and under, after 5 pm. OMCA offers onsite underground parking and is conveniently located one block from the Lake Merritt BART station, on the corner of 10th Street and Oak Street. The accessibility ramp is located at the new 1000 Oak Street main entrance.

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