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Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe

  • What are the dark matter and dark energy that make up most of the universe?
  • How did the stars and rocky planets like our Earth form and evolve?

Throughout history, people have observed the universe, seeking to understand its beginnings and how the galaxies, stars, and planets originated. At the Smithsonian, astrophysicists and other scientists continue to lead the quest to unlock the fundamental secrets of the cosmos. They explore our own solar system, meteorites, the Earth's geological past and present, and the paleontological record of our planet, showcasing the results of their explorations and connecting them to humankind's artistic and cultural endeavors.

Click images to enlarge and view captions

June 24-28

All activities are from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the National Mall

Thursday, June 24 Friday, June 25 Saturday, June 26 Sunday, June 27 Monday, June 28
  • Center for Earth and Planetary Studies
  • Center for Earth and Planetary Studies
  • National Museum of Natural History: Global Volcanism
  • Lemelson Center: Innovation and Invention
  • National Portrait Gallery: Portraits of Those Who Unlock "Mysteries"
  • Scientific illustrations
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory X-Ray Astronomy
  • Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute: Titianoboa giant snake
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory: X-Ray Astronomy
  • Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute: Titianboa giant snake
  • National Museum of Natural History: Ocean Day

July 1-5

Thursday, July 1 Friday, July 2 Saturday, July 3 Sunday, July 4 Monday, July 5
  • National Air and Space Museum: Division of Space History
  • National Air and Space Museum: Public Observatory
  • National Air and Space Museum: Space Suit
  • National Museum of American History: Star Map
  • National Air and Space Museum: Archives
  • National Museum of Natural History: Global Volcanism
  • National Museum of Natural History: Mineral Sciences
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
  • National Museum of Natural History: Meteorites
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory