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Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos

October 28, 2023 @ 10:00 am - October 29, 2023 @ 5:00 pm EDT


Saturday and Sunday, October 28–29, 10 AM – 5 PM
Free | National Mall

Bring the whole family to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian to participate in activities including dance performances, papel picado artist demonstrations, the unique art of sawdust carpets, and paper marigold and mask making. Visitors are also invited to leave photos and mementos of their loved ones on the ofrenda (altar), or commemorate them by writing their names on a butterfly and attaching it to the memorial arch. Please note that some events will be ongoing, whereas others occur only at certain times.

Día de los Muertos Mask Making with Rafael Jimenez (Mixtec)
Learn more about the masks used during Día de los Muertos, including the Mixtec jaguar masks worn during the Dance of the Jaguar.

Papel Picado (Cut- or Perforated-Paper Designs) with Ricardo Marcelo (Mixtec)
Papel picado, created by chiseling into stacks of tissue paper to cut out images, was originally made from a paper made of bark called amate.

Alfombras de Aserrín (Sawdust Carpet) Display with Uvaldo Sanchez (Maya Mam)
Alfombras de aserrín, or sawdust carpets, are found throughout Mexico and Guatemala and were used in celebrations prior to contact with Europeans. Visitors will have intermittent opportunities to join artist Uvaldo Sanchez in creating a sawdust carpet.

Butterfly Memorial Arch
Select a butterfly of your choice, write a loved one’s name or a short message, and attach the butterfly to the memorial arch.

Make a Paper Marigold | Decorate La Catrina Activity
Marigolds, or cempasúchitl, serve a special purpose during Día de los Muertos celebrations. Their petals are used to create a path between the cemetery and the family home. Make your own tissue-paper marigold to take home or create a garland to adorn a nine-foot-tall La Catrina, the iconic skeleton fashionista that has become a symbol of Día de los Muertos. Recommended for ages 4 years and up.

Paper Mask-Making Activity
Create and hand color your own monarch butterfly mask, jaguar mask, or sugar skull-inspired mask. Presented in collaboration with the National Museum of the American Latino.

Museum Ofrenda
This temporary display honors those who have passed on with photographs or personal effects of the deceased accompanied by flowers, candles, religious icons, water, salt, and an array of food and drink.

11:15 AM (Saturday only)
Story Time
Families are invited to this interactive story time featuring the children’s book Día de los Muertos by Roseanne Greenfield Thong. Children and guardians will connect with objects and photographs that deepen their understanding of the Día de los Muertos celebration represented in the story. Recommended for ages 3 years and up. Seating is limited, and tickets are required. Please see staff in the Activity Center.

Performances at 12 PM, 2 PM & 3:30 PM (Saturday and Sunday)
Danza de los Tecuanes (Dance of the Jaguar) | Danza de los Viejitos (Dance of the Old Men) with Grupo los Tecuanes (Mixtec)
The name of the Danza de los Tecuanes (Dance of the Jaguar) is rooted in the Mixtec understanding of the duality of life and death, and the fight of good against evil. The Danza de los Viejitos (Dance of the Old Men) is a humorous dance featuring dancers colorfully dressed as old men.

1–4 PM (Saturday only)
Papel Picado Activity
Papel picado is the Indigenous art form of hand-cut and die-cut paper banners that dates back to pre-Hispanic Mexico. The banners were originally made from a type of bark paper called amate. Today, papel picado is made by cutting tissue paper into intricate designs for Día de los Muertos and other celebrations throughout the year. Make your own papel picado from tissue paper to decorate your home or hang outside. Recommended for ages 5 years and up.


October 28, 2023 @ 10:00 am EDT
October 29, 2023 @ 5:00 pm EDT
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National Museum of the American Indian
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National Museum of the American Indian
Fourth Street & Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20560 United States
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