Sept. 27, 2019

Spit Spreads Death Parade Arts Workshop


The Mütter Museum invites the public to participate in a parade to memorialize the Philadelphia victims of the influenza pandemic and to honor community health groups. 

Join us for a hands-on parade arts workshop from 1PM to 3PM on Friday, September 27th with local parade and action artists Spiral Q, and bring your creation and energy to our parade the following evening for a chance to be featured in the exhibit! 

In this workshop, Spiral Q will help you create an illuminated lantern to be displayed at the Spit Spreads Death festival.

ABOUT Spit Spreads Death

A century ago, a worldwide health disaster hit home. The influenza pandemic of 1918–19, the global epidemic often called the “Spanish flu,” killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide.  

Here in Philadelphia, the Liberty Loan Parade, a patriotic wartime effort on September 28, 1918, helped to spread the disease. Soon, the city was in crisis. Hospitals overflowed and bodies piled up in morgues. Philadelphia had the highest death rate of any major American city during the pandemic. More than 12,000 people died in six weeks; over 20,000 died in six months. 

Many of those people died young. Very few were wealthy or famous. Their names are not in history books, but their families did not forget them.

Spit Spreads Death explores how neighborhoods in Philadelphia were impacted, how the disease spread, and what could happen in future pandemics.

Spit Spreads Death is an exhibition and artist project that explores both this devastating historic event and the connections to contemporary health issues. Join us for an exploration that begins before the exhibition opens and will continue throughout the life of the exhibition. Stay tuned for details on neighborhood walking tours, a health fair, free flu shots, and the opportunity to participate in a public parade held on the anniversary of the Liberty Loan Parade. On September 28, 2019, facilitated by the internationally renowned artist group Blast Theory and local community health organizations, the Mütter Museum invites our audience, supporters, and the Philadelphia community at large to participate in a parade to memorialize the Philadelphia victims of the influenza pandemic and to honor the tremendous work being done every day by community health groups.-Tickets are non-refundable, but are transferable to other people.

ABOUT Spiral Q

Spiral Q began as “Spiral Q Puppet Theater,” founded in 1996 by Matthew “Mattyboy” Hart in Philadelphia. Originally a street performance puppet troupe, Hart established the group to promote social and political change through giant puppetry, pageantry and direct action that told powerful stories and lifted up community voices.

Early work in the community centered around Philadelphia’s HIV/AIDS activism and queer communities, and especially with the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP).

As a presenting organization, Spiral Q also created the week-long Full-On Puppet Festival in 1997 and 1998 that brought puppeteers from around the country to showcase work and promote the connection between art and activism. From 1995 to 1999, Spiral Q organized an annual Day of the Dead parade on South Street in Philadelphia – a tradition that continues to this day.

Spiral Q expanded its work to include workshops that connect people of all ages to art as an active expression of their local values and experiences, and events that bring them out into the streets for a form of community performance and action. Since 2000, Spiral Q has organized Peoplehood, an annual city-wide parade and pageant that showcases the work of people in community.

Spiral Q has been rooted in its home community of Mantua in West Philadelphia since 2000.

Registration is free, but all attendees must be pre-registered.

SEPTEMBER 7, 2019: Health Fair at Mifflin Square Park
SEPTEMBER 14, 2019: Hidden City Philadelphia Walking Tour
SEPTEMBER 28, 2019: Interactive artists Blast Theory and the Mütter Museum bring a parade of light and sound to the streets of Philadelphia to commemorate this devastating event, remember those who died, and honor those who keep us safe today. Sign up to join the parade!
OCTOBER 17, 2019: Spit Spreads Death opens to the public
OCTOBER 17, 2019: Fellows and Members Spit Spreads Death Opening Night

Major support for Spit Spreads Death has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, with additional support from the Groff Family Memorial Trust and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.



Questions? Email

ASL interpretation is available for any event upon request. Please contact Meredith Sellers to place a request for an ASL interpreter or for any other accessibility accommodations.

NOTE: By entering the event premises, you consent to photography, audio recording, video recording and its release, publication, exhibition, or reproduction to be used for news, promotional purposes, advertising, inclusion on websites, social media, or any other purpose by The College of Physicians/The Mütter Museum and its affiliates and representatives.

The Mütter Museum helps the public appreciate the mysteries and beauty of the human body while understanding the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease.

  • 19 S 22nd Street
  • Philadelphia, PA 19103
Get Directions
  • Monday through Sunday
  • 10am–5pm
  • We are closed on Thanksgiving, December 24, December 25 and January 1