Día de los Muertos at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood

In Chicago, we’re very lucky to have a lot of Mexican food and culture at our fingertips. But one of my favorite places, particularly around Día de los Muertos, is the National Museum of Mexican Art. Located in the Pilsen neighborhood, the museum is free (thanks to sponsors) and open six days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Every year, they have an excellent exhibit for Día de los Muertos. This year’s exhibit, titled “Hanal Pixán” which means “food for the souls” in the Mayan language, is no exception. And it runs until December 16 if you haven’t seen it yet.

Every year, I love going to the museum around Día de los Muertos not only for the exhibit, but also for the calaveritas de azúcar (sugar skulls) that are handmade and decorated by the famous Mondragón family from Toluca, Mexico.

But one of the things I love most about the museum is open year-round: the Tzintzuntzán gift shop, which has all kinds of Mexican treasures from art to books and music to home decorations and more. Especially during Day of the Dead festivities, the gift shop is filled with Día de los Muertos trinkets and goodies—they’ve got papel picado (that is actually reasonably priced), shadowboxes with mini ofrendas, sugar skulls, paper mache food for ofrendas such as paper mache pan dulce, and the list goes on and on.

Below is a slideshow of some of my favorite items for sale in the gift shop during a recent visit.

La Virgen de Guadalupe

Picture 1 of 12

This shadowbox from the museum's gift shop is one of many dedidated to La Virgen de Guadalupe.

The National Museum of Mexican Art is located at 1852 W. 19th St., Chicago, IL 60608.

  • Have you been to the museum? What’s your favorite exhibit or thing you’ve seen in the gift shop?

Chicago’s own Mercado Navideño

This past weekend I attended the Mercado Navideño at the National Museum of Mexican Art here in Chicago with my friend, Daniela. It’s been awhile since my last visit so I was eager to see the new exhibits as well. But I loved all the gifts, decorations and crafts that remind me so much of the Museo de Arte Popular (of which I have only ever visited the gift shop) in Mexico City. I sent a picture message from my iPhone of the beautiful paper maché piggy bank to my suegra because she collects all kinds of puerquitos (little piggies). She loved it and said when I arrive, we’ll make plans to go visit the museum since she couldn’t remember ever taking me there before.

If you live in Chicago or are visiting during the Thanksgiving holiday next year, check out the mercado – it’s typically the Friday through Sunday right after Thanksgiving. Some of the items were pricey (compared to purchasing the same item in Mexico) but for the most part, they had a lot of beautiful gifts at reasonable prices. And you can’t visit the National Museum of Mexican Art without also making a stop in the gift shop on your way out! I loved the mini papel picado, juguetes and all kinds of books about Mexican art and culture. I may go back soon for some books on regional art and food!

    • What’s your favorite kind of Mexican popular art?

 

The photos in this post were taken with my iPhone 3Gs using the Polarize app by Christopher Comair.
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