Leeds nostalgia: Day of the dead springs to life in Leeds

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On display as part of an exhibition exploring the themes of death and dying, this selection of colourful mementos came to Leeds from Mexico’s vibrant Day of the Dead celebrations.

Mexico’s world-famous festival sees families welcome back their dead on November 1 & 2, with special altars built at home, visits to cemeteries with food and candles and a huge parade.

The collection on display in Leeds City Museum’s Dying Matters exhibition includes a model altar made of printed cardboard, orange paper carnations, a special sugar cake and a sugar coffin with a pop-up skeleton head.

The objects were brought to Leeds by Lourdes Parra Lazcano, Mexican PhD student at the University of Leeds, where the Mexican Students Society holds its own annual Day of the Dead celebrations.

Leeds City Museum’s Dying Matters display is made up of five cases at the contemporary end of the Leeds Story Gallery.

It looks at look at funerals, preparation for death, sorting the deceased’s effects, memorials and the afterlife, with objects on display including Anglo-Saxon urns, a 19th century funeral cart.

Two new Leeds films have also been commissioned, one with interviews taken at St Gemma’s and Wheatfields hospices, and the other sharing the personal stories of five Leeds people.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “Death and dying is obviously a sensitive subject, but it’s also one that unifies people from different cultures .”

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