Expats visit Day of the Dead altar
By James Langton BENALMÁDENA’S foreign residents’ department organised a trip to the Felipe Orlando preColombian art museum for the town’s expats last Thursday, November 2, to mark the Day of the Dead and visit a traditional altar to the deceased.
The colourful altar serves as a tribute to the man the museum is named after, Felipe Orlando García-Murciano, a Mexican painter, poet and writer who spent many years living in Benalmádena and turned his home into the museum, donating his private collection of historical craftworks and artefacts to the town and serving as director of the facility from 1970 until his death in 2001.
Covered in floral offerings, photos, sugar skulls and other items, the visitors were told a bit more about the culture and tradition behind the altar by museum employee Victoria Sabino. She explained that it is not a “sad thing”, with the altar serving as a remembrance “fil- led with things the dead used to love”.
Sra Sabino said that creating the altar, thought to be the only one of its kind in Málaga province this year, is a long process that began in the summer, when the museum began to gather material. Málaga’s Mexican communities, and Felipe’s family, sent items to be placed on the altar, before it opened to the public on October 20. It was taken down last weekend, meaning that those that missed out will have to wait until next year to pay a visit.
Around 20 people attended the guided tour, and the guests were also shown around the museum’s permanent exhibitions. It houses one of the largest collections of pre-Colombian artefacts in Spain, including traditional vases, jugs, and other crafts from Mexico, Peru, Columbia and Ecuador, as well as a gallery of Orlando’s paintings and some more local history, such as a number of archaeological pieces from Benalmád- ena.
The visit was a big hit with those who went along. Angela Crofts, who has lived in Spain for five and a half years, said she “thought it was interesting, and it’s fun to learn about different customs and celebrations”, while Heather Booth said its “fascinating to learn about different cultures”.
Sue and Fergus Coffey, originally from Surrey, said they thought events such as this organised by the foreign residents’ department are important, as they are like “an induction course into the Spanish way of life”.
And Julie Belham-Payne, who has lived in Benalmádena for 17 years and hosts exhibitions about indigenous religions and witchcraft in the UK, said she finds it “interesting to learn about folk traditions”, such as the altar of the deceased, and the meaning of the artefacts featured on the altar, as well as the “similarities and differences to the religions I study, learn about and talk about”.
The Felipe Orlando museum, located in the Plaza de Tres Culturas in the centre of Benalmádena Pueblo, is free to visit and open from 9.30am-1.30pm and 5pm-7pm on Tuesdays-Saturdays, and 10am-2pm on Sundays.
The group outside the Felipe Orlando pre-Colombian musem in Benalmádena Pueblo