In addition to showcasing works by Mexican, Latino and Chicano artists, the National Museum of Mexican Art displays artifacts and hosts cultural performances. This free-admission facility is the nation’s largest accredited Latino art museum and the only one of its kind in the Midwest.
Surrounded by modest single-family homes, the museum is easy to identify thanks to the cream-color zigzag Aztec pattern outlining the brick contemporary building beside Harrison Park. It’s possible to tour the mazelike interior in about two hours. Permanent exhibits trace Mexican history through artifacts, artwork and textiles from the pre-Mesoamerica era to present day. Meanwhile, Mexicans in Chicago details 150 years of the ethnic group’s influence within this diverse city.
During the festive annual Day of the Dead activities (Dio de los Muertos), paintings, masks and sculptures from an international group of artists explore pleasure, pain and death. Huge altars honor famous deceased, tiny clay figures in Tree of Life candelabras depict daily life events, and visitors explore life-size skeleton sculptures, both gruesome and playful. Cultural demonstrations, such as sugar skull-making and dance performances, are part of Folk Arts Week.