Mexican Masks: Symbols, Celebrations, Satire, and Safety

Sep 26, 2023 – Apr 20, 2024

Masks are worn by peoples around the world for a variety of purposes – to allow the wearer to hide their identity or to assume a new identity for protection against diseases or malevolent spirits, to mock others, to symbolize one’s social status or position, and for amusement.
Masks in Mexico have been used for thousands of years to portray objects and themes as varied as plants and animals, old and young, ethnic, political,economic, and social differences, and especially the fantastical and supernatural.

This Exhibit

  • Explores the history of mask use in Mexican prehistory and history
  • Uses videos and photographs along with masks, to show how these are used in elaborate, colorful dances and performances in contemporary Mexico.
  • Examines how masks and mask-making have evolved from local traditions and uses to become an art form prized by collectors and museums around the world.
  • Highlights the work of four families from different regions of Mexico whose workshops are producing some of the finest masks both for local ceremonial use and for sale as art pieces in the global marketplace.
  • Shows how more recent mask uses in Mexico, especially their adoption in freestyle wrestling matches and their more recent use in protecting against the Covid-19 pandemic, have adapted and incorporated designs and themes from more traditional uses of masks.

Mexican Masks is made possible in part by the financial support of the following organizations and individuals.