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In addition to daily performances and activities on the National Mall, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival organizes and recommends events and exhibitions at other Smithsonian museums and venues around Washington, D.C. All events are free unless otherwise noted.

Upcoming Events

African American Dress and the Will to Adorn

May 24, 2017, 6 p.m.
Lecture: African American Dress and the Will to Adorn
The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum
701 21st St. NW, Washington, D.C.
$10/museum members and GW students, faculty, and staff; $15/public

As part of the exhibition Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Folklife curator Diana N’Diaye will introduce a spectrum of African American style as an expression of community and individual identity. The Will To Adorn, a featured program at the 2013 Folklife Festival, continues as a youth-access research and presentation project in collaboration with Smithsonian Affliate museums across the country, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, and Mind-Builders Creative Arts, Inc.

I  Clowns

July 1, 2017, noon
The Circus: Two Portraits
National Gallery of Art, East Building Auditorium
150 Fourth Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Federico Fellini’s lifelong engagement with itinerant performers is embodied in I Clowns (1970), the director’s intensely visual essay that, in the words of historian Sam Rohdie, “memorializes a childhood of clowns and the enchantment of clowns, including their terror—the film is their requiem and their return to life.”

The verité documentary Constellations (Luigi Cuomo, 2015) follows a group of contemporary Italian performers as they go about a daily life of rigorous rehearsals, meals, animals, and camaraderie—a view of a diverse community coming together for an ancient, unique, and compelling purpose. Presented in association with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.


Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II
National Museum of American History
February 17, 2017–February 19, 2018

Marking the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 in February 2017, this exhibition explores the history of relocating Japanese American citizens and immigrants to prison camps during World War II through artwork, photographs, and objects.

Many Voices, One Nation

Many Voices, One Nation
National Museum of American History
Opens June 28, 2017

Through almost 200 museum artifacts and about 100 loan objects, this exhibition shows how the many voices of the American people have contributed to and continue to shape the nation and its communities, from its earliest beginnings to the present.

The Glazed Elephant

The Glazed Elephant: Ceramic Traditions in Cambodia
Freer | Sackler Galleries
April 15–July 11, 2017

This ceramics exhibition explores unconventional forms, supposed functions, and the people who made and used them during the reign of the Angkor kingdom. It will include several contemporary works by Cambodian American ceramic artist Yary Livan, an NEA National Heritage Fellow from Lowell, Massachusetts. .

Past Events

Sounding Board: Digital Creativity in Museums

March 31, 2017, 6:30–7:30 p.m.
Sounding Board: Digital Creativity in Museums
The Potter’s House
1658 Columbia Road NW, Washington, D.C.

What does creativity look like in today’s digital landscape? Join us for a roundtable with new media strategists from across Washington, D.C.’s most prominent museums to discuss just that and what it means for the future of social media and web design. Explore today’s latest web and social media work within museums—the projects that are engaging audiences in new and imaginative ways— and learn how you can foster that same creativity with your next digital project.

Good Work: Masters of the Building Arts

March 23, 2017, 6:30–9 p.m.
Film Screening: Good Work: Masters of the Building Arts
Washington National Cathedral
3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

Extending from a program at the 2001 Folklife Festival, Good Work: Masters of the Building Arts showcases ten American artisans in the building trades, including four with hands-on experience at Washington National Cathedral. Academy Award-winning directors Marjorie Hunt and Paul Wagner reunite to illustrate the diversity of beautiful and functional works of art, from stained glass to masonry to ironwork and hard-carved lettering. Good Work celebrates American craftsmanship, occupational traditions, the beauty of our built environment, and the importance of “good work.”

NOKA | Basque Song and Music from California

February 25, 2017, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
The Will to Adorn: African American Diversity, Style, and Identity
Alexandria Black History Museum
902 Wythe St., Alexandria, Virginia

Growing from a Folklife Festival program in 2013, The Will to Adorn examines African American traditions of dress and body adornment as creative expressions, revealing ideas, values, skills, and knowledge rooted on the African continent and in the American experience. Folklife curator Diana Baird N’Diaye guides audiences through an exciting journey of discovery about how we make meaning through what we choose to wear, how we groom our hair, and how we refashion and adorn our bodies.

Mother Tongue Film Festival

February 21–25, 2017
Mother Tongue Film Festival
Various locations in Washington, D.C.

This free five-day festival hosted by the Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices (including the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage) will open on United Nations Mother Language Day and feature work representing thirty-three languages across six continents. Visitors can see a curated selection of films on music, identity, and place from communities around the world. Together, the program includes a variety of styles from drama to experimental and brings to light the value of language use and revitalization in today’s increasingly globalized world.

Zomba Prison Project

February 16, 2017, 6:30–7:30 p.m.
Sounding Board: Music, Prisons, and Transformation
The Potter’s House
1658 Columbia Road NW, Washington, D.C.

Join Georgetown University professor Ben Harbert, GRAMMY Award-winning music producer Ian Brennan, and Smithsonian Folkways director and curator Huib Schippers as they discuss complex and timely questions about the societal tensions between administering justice and facilitating rehabilitation, the transformative power of music, and more.

Support the Center and our important work, including the Folklife Festival, Folkways Recordings, exhibitions, films, and educational materials.