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Smithsonian Latino Center Announces Day of the Dead Celebration

The Smithsonian Latino Center, in partnership with the University of Texas El Paso, presents its fifth annual Latino Virtual Museum “Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos Festival” in Second Life, a 3-D avatar-based virtual world, Oct. 30 to Nov. 2. This four-day online event features activities celebrating this popular Latin American holiday. The festival is hosted on Second Life, courtesy of UTEP, using the LVM’s digital collections that illustrate customs and beliefs from ancient Mesoamerica to today’s Latino culture. Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout Mexico, Central America and in many Latino communities in the U.S. as a way to honor deceased family and friends by creating altars or ofrendas, which include traditional foods, sugar skulls, marigolds and materials that the deceased enjoyed while alive.

This year’s festival will feature altars dedicated to Smithsonian Latina curator Marvette Pérez, boxer Hector Macho Camacho, musician Eddie “La Bala” Pérez, singer Eyde Gorme, World War I veteran Marcelino Serna and Chicano scholar and author Gloria Anzaldua. Visitors can participate through the LVM’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, UStream and Tumblr media channels. Live art, music and cultural performances from artists and writers throughout the country will be featured, including artist and writer Xánath Caraza. One festival highlight is an ancient Mesoamerican ballgame dating back 3,500 years, which can be played using avatars on one of the museum’s virtual islands. Participants can organize their own ballgames with friends and family throughout the festival. Other activities include altar-building, an open-mic poetry reading, a fiesta de las calaveras (skeleton party), a costume contest, a crystal skull dance party, live music streams from real community events and a film festival.

For more information on the LVM “Day of the Dead Festival,” and for a complete listing of events and a map, visit and click on the sugar skull icon.