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Community Altars Celebrate Día de los Muertos at IMAS

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Pictured: The IMAS honors Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-born astronaut to go to space, in an annual exhibit of community altars in celebration of Día de los Muertos. Community altars will be on display October 21 through November 14, 2020. The McAllen Public Library is one of six local organizations with an altar on display at the IMAS this month, featuring individuals of color who led the way in art and science fields.
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The International Museum of Art & Science (IMAS) invites the community to celebrate Día de los Muertos by visiting the altars exhibit honoring individuals of color who led the way in art and science fields. Community members are also invited to submit photos of their own altars to be featured in a virtual exhibit. 

The community altar exhibit includes seven colorful ofrendas on display at the IMAS through November 14. Six partnering organizations were invited to create an altar to honor the life and career of important creators and experts.  

UTRGV Center for Latin American Arts created an altar for iconic fashion designer Oscar de la Renta with hand-painted skulls by UTRGV MFA alumna Angelica Rodriguez. The Boys & Girls Club of McAllen honored prolific artist Frida Kahlo with a vibrant display. Mission Historical Museum’s altar is a tribute to the famous Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada.  

McAllen Public Library’s electric display is dedicated to the inventor of the color television transmission system, Guillermo González Camarena. African American chemist Alma Levant Hayden is honored by McAllen Public Utility (MPU). Valley Symphony Orchestra recollects Huapango with their altar for conductor and composter José Pablo Moncayo. 

IMAS is honoring fallen astronaut Dr. Kalpana Chawla. She was the first Indian-born American astronaut, and our altar brings her legacy to life. She was lost too soon, having perished during reentry on Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003. “The IMAS education team wanted to honor a female scientist of color to call attention to the lack of diversity in science fields. How many female scientists can you name? It is important to have representation so our future scientists, RGV children who visit IMAS, can imagine themselves having these careers. That they know it is possible.” expresses Claudia Martinez Gray, IMAS Director of Education. Steve Shih, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, states, “Our success in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math depends on a diversity of contributions, and benefits everyone, so this means we must make it inclusive.” 

Community altars will be on display October 21 through November 14, 2020. The McAllen Public Library is one of six local organizations with an altar on display at the IMAS this month, featuring individuals of color who led the way in art and science fields.

A virtual altar exhibition will include photographs of altars from the community. Photos of altars can be submitted at theimasonline.org/altars-exhibit/ and will be included in the virtual exhibit on the IMAS website and Facebook page @imasMcAllen. 

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Leading up to the Día de los Muertos Celebration, view our community altar exhibit, take part in a live Workshop Wednesday on papel picado, and visit the museum on free admission days presented by H-E-B Helping Here. IMAS general admission is free from October 29-31. Daily hours Thursday through Saturday are 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 2:00-5:00 p.m. Admission is also free on Wednesday, October 28 for a sensory-friendly experience from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 

The virtual Día de los Muertos Celebration will be held on Sunday, November 1, 2020, online through fb.com/imasmcallen and https://www.youtube.com/user/IMASmuseum. Free celebration bags for families participating at home with us will include sugar skull decoration kits, two art activities, coloring pages by IMAS artist Roni Cortez, and a science experiment by MPU. Register in advance for these limited free kits on the IMAS website at https://theimasonline.org. Curbside pick-up for kits will be at IMAS on October 29-31 during operating hours, 10 am-1 pm and 2-5 pm. IMAS cultural programs are supported in part by a grant from Humanities Texas. 

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