Visitors and artists interact under the guadua (bamboo) tents in the Colombia program area. Colombia landscape Colombia Oscar de Jesús Cadavid Cataño and Elkin de Jesús Meneses Rojas work to tune their instruments while Grupo Cabrestero members Fredy Calixto Landines Porras and Felix Chaparro Rivas prepare to play and Salsa dancer Deivy Johan Zuñiga Jiménez awaits the music. Colombia Germán Ferro takes notes on the preparation of cocido boyacense.


Assembling the Smithsonian Folklife Festival: A Journey into the 2011 Colombia Program

These pages offer a window into the processes of conceptualizing, researching, and producing the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival program on Colombia.

Colombia: The Nature of Culture was a complex project that convened one hundred cultural practitioners for ten days on the National Mall. The project team was comprised of researchers, curators, artists, translators, photographers, videographers, engineers, and educators from the United States and Colombia. For three years, we worked together to conceptualize, research, and produce the Festival, which featured live performances, demonstrations, workshops, and discussion sessions representing six ecosystems and three cities.

By sharing documentation from all phases of the project as well as the perspectives of project staff and participants, the following pages showcase the Festival content and themes and provide insights, lessons, and models that we hope others can adapt for the documentation and interpretation of their own traditions.

"The Smithsonian provided a unique opportunity for representatives of Colombia's cultural and ecological diversity to meet in one space. Where else would you find a real paisa mule driver and a shaman from the Amazons together in the same place?"
—Mario Lamo,