Smithsonian Collections Blog

Highlighting the hidden treasures from over 2 million collections

Collections Search Center

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Building a Festival

Builders from the Maramureş region of
Romania build a church as part of the Gateways to Romania
program at the 1999 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
Photo by Richard Strauss. 
The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage is as quiet today as it was bustling with energy last week. Hallways are dark, there's room for my lunch in the fridge, crickets are chirping...all the action is on the National Mall during Festival season!  The Smithsonian Folklife Festival kicks off today with the following programs:

Hungarian Heritage: Roots to Revival 

One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage 

The Will to Adorn: African American Diversity, Style, and Identity

We've written about the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives' work in documenting the Festival before, but what about documenting all the hard work that goes into building such a transporting event? It's more than pitching big white tents! Weeks before the Festival opens on the National Mall, Festival workers and volunteers start constructing stages, architectural touchstones, and artistic displays that will immerse visitors in programs presenting living cultural heritage. Today, we're putting the spotlight on the hardworking hands that have helped build the Festival into an inspiring and beautiful celebration every year.

Participants from Mali work on the Djenne Gate for the 2003 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Photo by Hugh Talman.

CFCH staff and Festival participants watch as a large pole is installed for the Palo Volantín ceremony, a part of the México program at the  2010 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Photo by Nichole Procopenko. 

The carpentry crew works on the frame of one of the many wooden structures created for this year's Hungarian Heritage program. Photo by Eliza Piccininni.

The photographs documenting the building of the Festival can be just as culturally informative as the finished structures themselves. As someone who frequently walks the Mall, it's both disorienting and visually striking to see these structures popping up right between the Washington Monument and Capitol Building, a space normally occupied by lots (and lots) of grass. If you're in the area between June 26th-July 7th, don't miss your chance to see this craftsmanship up close!

To see more beautiful photographs of the Festival, visit our Facebook page! 
Get more updates on Festival happenings on the Festival Blog!

Cecilia Peterson, Project Archivist
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections 

No comments:

Post a Comment