In past years, this was the month when the museum’s gallery would be glowing with the flickering of small artificial candles complimenting altars placed by community members from across the region. And although things may be a bit different this year, considering the pandemic circumstances, efforts are being made to keep that tradition alive.
For 16 years, the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg has commemorated Día de los Muertos by opening its courtyard gallery for a community altar exhibit, in which residents can set up memorials or ofrendas for loved ones who have died.
Altars are set up for family members, friends or coworkers. By the end of the month, the room would be adorned in picture frames and flowers.
The museum’s doors have been closed for most of this year, but the holiday is too important to the South Texas community to pass without commemorating.
This year, for the first time, the museum moved its altar onto a digital platform and released an instructional video on its social media platforms on how to submit honorees.
“Now community members can remember and honor a loved one using digital media,” René Ballesteros, MOSTHistory’s program and events officer, said in the video.
Those hoping to submit an honoree to the museum’s digital altar should fill out a form found on the museum’s website, mosthistory.org. Residents should then click on a banner entitled “Día de los Muertos Digital Altar Exhibit.”
There, residents will be asked to fill out information about themselves and the person they are honoring. Information on the submitter won’t be published, while details about the honoree will be made into a custom digital page of the museum’s online altar collection.
Residents will be able to upload up to four photos of their loved one, and include information about how they lived, such as their favorite hobbies, foods and music. Those submitting can also answer in 250 words what impact the honoree had on their life.
After filling out that information, the submitter will be asked to agree with the Deed of Gift terms, the standard agreement for anyone giving information to the museum’s archives.
Then the submitter will be asked if their loved one died due to COVID-19, and if so, whether they would allow the museum to add their honoree to its Bearing Witness Initiative list. The program is seeking to document community members who have lost their lives to COVID-19 and their impact on the region.
All submissions will be featured on the museum’s digital altar page found on their website at no cost.
Starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, MOSTHistory will be hosting a virtual and bilingual tutorial on how to create a Día de los Muertos altar at home. Viewers will also learn about the history and importance of altars and ofrendas.
Concluding the museum’s holiday festivities will be a “Digital Altar Exhibit Reception,” which will be part of MOSTHistory’s Sunday Speaker Series at 2 p.m. Sunday on its Facebook page.