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Des Moines Art Center honors Día de los Muertos

For two decades, the Des Moines Art Center (Art Center) has brought the community together to honor and recognize Día de los Muertos.

Motivated by record-high attendance in 2019 with nearly 3,000 attendees, the Art Center and the Des Moines community had big plans to celebrate this year’s Día de los Muertos event.

"For 19 years, the Des Moines Art Center's Day of the Dead festivities have been an opportunity for Iowans to come together to learn about and celebrate Día de los Muertos as a community," said Jordan Powers, Art Center Director of External Affairs. "We've had to make substantial changes this year to create an all-virtual event, but we hope that this new format will create an even more accessible environment to celebrate the lives and memories of loved ones who have passed.”

This year in support of the community and in the spirit of honoring this international tradition, the Art Center has teamed up with Iowa PBS, Des Moines Public Library and Panaderia La Mona this month to provide free resources, activities and four special video features for all members of the community.

When it comes to celebrating and honoring Dia de los Muertos, the energy, the colors, the music and the food are unmatched. This year, community members can participate in the following activities:


Des Moines Art Center Ofrenda Start Kit

Free ofrenda starter kits are being offered for families wishing to learn more about the tradition of honoring loved ones who have passed. Kits are currently available at local Des Moines Public Library Branches through Saturday, October 31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — for library pick-ups, find more information at dmpl.org/events.


Watch short films on YouTube made by Vince Valdez over the last two decades, honoring members of the Latinx community. Valdez will also create a special 20-year anniversary film that will premiere online November 1. The film will highlight those honored in previous events and the volunteers and sponsors who have helped the Art Center make it happen.

Image of one of the films made by Vince Valdez honoring Latinx community

Photo of previous years event

View photo galleries online commemorating each year’s celebration. Users are able to submit photos of previous events as well as their own altars and ofrendas from this year.


Enjoy free downloads of Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos poster designs from this and previous years.

Listen to author Lori Erickson as she explores Near the Exit – Travels with the Not-So-Grim Reaper, a conversation on how cultures have confronted death.

Day of the Dead Dia de los Muertos celebration

Photo of previous years event

Tune-in for special video features on Iowa PBS, including a Virtual altar, a bakery visit from Panaderia La Mona, a paper flower making tutorial with Jessica Villegas and Eduardo Bolaños, and more. For more details, please visit IowaPBS.org.

“Through partnership with Iowa PBS, we’ve been able to broaden our scope, push the limits of creativity and be more accessible for communities throughout the state of Iowa to join the celebration from the comfort of their homes,” said Powers. “We are thrilled to engage a larger audience to help raise awareness, celebrate and honor Día de los Muertos.”

For more information, please visit desmoinesartcenter.org/day-of-the-dead and follow the Art Center’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter channels for additional updates.

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