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    Zombies Take Over the Museums!

    Where to find Halloween-themed museum tours, dress-up ideas, and costume parties

    Late one night, in the basement of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the security guard on duty fell asleep. When he heard the sound of someone tapping on the window, the guard awoke to find an old woman in a tattered white wedding dress peering at him from behind the glass. She was the spitting image of Mrs. T, from George Bellows’s 1920 portrait Mrs. T. in Cream Silk, No. 2.

    Mrs. T. in Cream Silk, No.2 (detail), 
George Bellows,
1920.

    George Bellows, Mrs. T. in Cream Silk, No. 2 (detail), 1920, oil on canvas, 52” x 44”. The painting is part of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ haunted tour.

    COURTESY MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ARTS

    As if by magic, the woman floated through the control room door and then vanished into thin air. And as the story goes, the guard never worked the night shift again.

    For the past several years, the museum has been collecting ghost stories like this one from staff and visitors and compiled the tales into a new audio tour. The tour, which is available both at the museum and online, is one of many Halloween and Día de los Muertos–inspired activities being offered by museums this fall.

    Tails from the Crypt
    On Halloween, the Brooklyn Museum will conduct a sensory tour of its collection of ancient Egyptian art and artifacts. Titled “Mostly Mummies,” the tour is designed especially for individuals who are blind and visually impaired. It will allow participants to experience “The Mummy Chamber” and the “Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt” installations through touch, taste, and verbal descriptions.

    Leonine Goddess, provenance unknown, third Intermediate period to late period, dynasty 22 to dynasty 27, C-14 dated to 770-412 B.C.E. Wood, gilding, plaster, linen, bronze, 42.5 x 13 x 16.5 cm. COURTESY BROOKLYN MUSEUM AND CHARLES EDWIN WILBOUR FUND

    Leonine Goddess, provenance unknown, Third Intermediate Period to Late Period, Dynasty 22 to Dynasty 27, C-14 dated to 770-412 B.C.E., wood, gilding, plaster, linen, bronze, 16.7” x 5” x 6.5”. The figure is featured in the Brooklyn Museum’s “Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt” installation.

    BROOKLYN MUSEUM AND CHARLES EDWIN WILBOUR FUND

    Dark Shadows
    The Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts is conducting two Halloween drawing classes this year.

    The first, which takes place next Wednesday, is called the “Macabre Drawing Club.”

    For this event, participants will sketch a selection of Gothic and mysterious artworks from the museum’s European collection. Among them is Nicolaes Maes’s foreboding ca. 1655 painting An Old Woman Praying.

    The museum is also offering a figure-drawing class that will focus primarily on skeletal anatomy. During the session, a nude model will pose with a model of the human skeleton.

    Nicolaes Maes, An Old Woman Praying, ca. 1655.

    Nicolaes Maes, An Old Woman Praying, ca. 1655, oil on canvas, 43.5” x 36.5”. During the Worcester Art Museum’s “Macabre Drawing Club,” participants will have the opportunity to sketch this work.

    COURTESY WORCESTER ART MUSEUM

    Prints of Darkness
    To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Mexican printmaker José Guadalupe Posada, several museums are honoring the artist during their Día de los Muertos and National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, for example, is currently presenting the exhibition “Calaveras Mexicanas: The Art and Influence of José Guadalupe Posada” and has organized a variety of programs around the show. These activities include drawing classes that focus on Posada’s prints of skulls and skeletons, a scavenger hunt in the museum’s galleries, and a free Día de los Muertos celebration for families.

    José Guadalupe Posada, La Gran Calavera de  Emiliano Zapata (The Great Skeleton of Emiliano Zapata), from  the portfolio Monografia: Las obras de José Guadalupe Posada,  grabador mexicano, published by Mexican Folkways, Mexico  City, Mexico, ca. 1911–16, printed 1930, photo-relief etching with  engraving. COURTESY THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, HOUSTON/GIFT OF FRANK RIBELIN

    José Guadalupe Posada, La Gran Calavera de Emiliano Zapata (The Great Skeleton of Emiliano Zapata), ca. 1911–16, photo-relief etching with engraving, from the portfolio Monografia: Las obras de José Guadalupe Posada, grabador mexicano, published by Mexican Folkways, Mexico City, Mexico, printed 1930. This print is on view now at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

    THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, HOUSTON/GIFT OF FRANK RIBELIN

    Prints by Posada are also currently on view at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California, and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth.

    Buried Treasure
    In addition to the haunted audio tour, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts will offer a special Día de los Muertos tour during the month of November.

    Titled “Day of the Dead: Honoring Ancestors Around the World,” the tour will explore sculptures, paintings, and decorative objects from the museum’s collection that were created in honor of the dead.

    These works include an ancient Nayarit sculpture from 200 B.C.E.–400 A.D.

    Traditionally, the Nayarit people buried their ancestors near their homes and regularly provided them with food and other offerings.

    This sculpture depicts the Nayarit people and their deceased relatives co-existing.

    An ancient Nayarit sculpture from 200 BC-400 AD.

    An ancient Nayarit sculpture from 200 B.C.E.-400 A.D. This work is one of the highlights of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ Día de los Muertos tour.

    COURTESY MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ARTS

    Night of the Living Dead
    Tomorrow, the Honolulu Museum of Art will host a special Halloween edition of its ARTafterDARK program. During the event, master Hawaiian storyteller Lopaka Kapanui will tell a series of ghost stories inspired by pieces in the museum’s Arts of Hawai’i gallery. Lionel Walden’s hazy 1924 oil painting Hawaiian Fisherman will be among the works discussed.

    Lionel Walden, Hawaiian Fisherman, 1924, oil on canvas. Gift of Frances Damon Holt in memory of John Dominis Holt/Courtesy Honolulu Museum of Art

    Lionel Walden, Hawaiian Fisherman, 1924, oil on canvas. Hawaiian storyteller Lopaka Kapanui will discuss this work at the Honolulu Museum of Art.

    GIFT OF FRANCES DAMON HOLT IN MEMORY OF JOHN DOMINIS HOLT/COURTESY HONOLULU MUSEUM OF ART

    Dark Arts
    The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is currently presenting the exhibition “Witches and Wicked Bodies,” which features artist depictions of witches and witchcraft from the past 500 years. The show includes works by Albrecht Dürer, Francisco de Goya, Paula Rego, and Kiki Smith, among others.

    In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum is hosting a Halloween party that will feature musical performances, poetry readings, a screening of the animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmed, and Tarot card readings.

    Kiki Smith, Out of the Woods, Untitled (Encryption) 1:5, 2002, photo-etching on paper. © Tate, London 2012

    Kiki Smith, Out of the Woods, Untitled (Encryption) 1:5, 2002, photo-etching on paper. This piece is currently on view at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

    ©TATE, LONDON 2012

    Altared State
    For its Día de los Muertos celebration, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, is installing a community altar in remembrance of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The project is a collaboration with the Mattie Rhodes Center and will be on view though November 10.

    Frida Kahlo, Diego en mi pensamiento (Diego on My Mind), 1943, oil on Masonite. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art will honor Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera during its Día de los Muertos celebration.

    ©2013 BANCO DE MEXICO DIEGO RIVERA FRIDO KAHLO MUSEUM TRUST, MEXICO, D.F/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK

    Do the Monster Mash
    On Friday, the Whitney Museum will present “Ooo! Ahh! Zombies!!,” a Halloween party for teens. The event will feature art projects, scavenger hunts, and face painting.

    The Los Angeles County Museum of Art will hold its annual costume ball on Saturday. This year’s theme is “Haunted Hollywoodland.”

    The New Museum will host its costume party on Wednesday, October 30.

    This Sunday night, MoMA PS1 invites guests to dress in drag for its Halloween Drag Ball. Before the party, artist Raul de Nieves will lead a costume, makeup, and hair workshop.

    For those still in need of a costume, several current exhibitions might be able to provide inspiration. Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring is now on view at the Frick Collection and the museum’s gift shop is selling faux pearl earrings that could help complete the ensemble. MoMA’s exhibition “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938” also offers up some viable options.

    Image on home page: José Guadalupe Posada, Calaveras Zalameras de las Coquetas Meseras (Ingratiating Skeletons of Flirtatious Waitresses), n.d., broadside, type-metal engraving. Courtesy Dan Pappalardo and Susan Bellin.

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