The National Museum of Mexican Art is located in the Pilsen neighborhood, the heart of Chicago’s Mexican Community, and is the first nationally accredited museum dedicated to the preservation and celebration of Mexican arts and culture.
Annually, the National Museum of Mexican Art holds a Día de muertos, or Day of the Dead, exhibition. The 35th iteration of the Día de muertos exhibition will include installations, altars, paintings, and prints that span from more traditional to innovative means to celebrate those who have passed through this living cultural practice. This exhibition will also include works of art from the growing National Museum of Mexican Art permanent collection, which is inclusive of local artists and artists from both sides of the border.
Plan your visit
Día de Muertos
September 10–December 13, 2021
Commissioned for Toward Common Cause and featured in the 2021 National Museum of Mexican Art’s annual Día de muertos exhibition is Circle of Ancestors by the artist, curator, and scholar, Amalia Mesa-Bains. This installation investigates the migration and the rendered invisible histories of Mexican contributions in the building of Chicago, focusing on the wave of the mid-1900s.
In addition to Circle of Ancestors by Amalia Mesa-Bains, this exhibition also features an installation by the MacArthur Fellow, poet, essayist, and performer, Sandra Cisneros. The display serves as an ofrenda to her mother, Elvira Cordero Cisneros.
This permanent exhibition showcases the diversity of Mexican identities across North America, and includes Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s sculpture New World Order—a miniature ship in a bottle that stands as a satirical ode to the historical encounter and colonialism, while noting the commodification of violence, genocide, invasion, displacement, borders, erasures, among others—as well as recently acquired photographs by the Civil Rights organizer, educator, photographer, and MacArthur Fellow Maria Varela.
In 1982, Carlos Tortolero organized a group of fellow educators and founded the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, which opened its doors in 1987. The goal was to establish an arts and cultural organization committed to accessibility, education and social justice. The museum also provided a positive influence for the local Mexican community, especially since many other art institutions did not address Mexican art.
Over the years, the institution has grown, its audience has broadened, and its reach now extends across the United States and beyond. To support this evolution, in 2001, the museum expanded to a 48,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Pilsen and in 2006 it unveiled a new name, the National Museum of Mexican Art. While its presence has grown, the NMMA remains true to its founding mission: To showcase the beauty and richness of Mexican culture by sponsoring events and presenting exhibitions that exemplify the majestic variety of visual and performing arts in the Mexican culture; to develop, conserve and preserve a significant permanent collection of Mexican art; to encourage the professional development of Mexican artists; and, to offer arts-education programs.