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Smithsonian Festival. Chapter 8 The Festival on the Mall. Festival Description. Annual display of living cultural heritage. Two weeks around 4 th of July. Presented on the National Mall. Cooperation with National Park Service. Free to the public. Attracts one million visitors annually.

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Smithsonian Festival

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smithsonian festival


Chapter 8

The Festival on the Mall

festival description
Festival Description
  • Annual display of living cultural heritage.
  • Two weeks around 4th of July.
  • Presented on the National Mall.
  • Cooperation with National Park Service.
  • Free to the public.
  • Attracts one million visitors annually.
festival participants







Ritual specialists





Craft demonstrations

Cooking demos


Worker culture

Festival Participants
research based festival
Research-based Festival
  • Tradition bearers demonstrate, discuss, and present their cultures.
  • Museum-quality signage.
  • Photo-text panels.
  • Published program book.
  • Museum shop.
  • Physical context for traditions presented.
mall difficulties
Mall Difficulties
  • Drainage problems.
  • Heavy traffic.
  • Dutch elm disease.
  • Wear on turf.
  • Unauthorized vendors.
purpose of the festival
Purpose of the Festival
  • Art as entertainment.
  • Cultural advocacy.
  • Education as public service.
  • Knowledge as scholarship.
festival people
Festival People
  • People brought together who normally would not interact:
    • Tradition bearers
    • The public
    • Scholars
    • Officials
    • Builders
    • Volunteers
museums vs festivals
Museums are inside

Museums are serious.

Valuable objects.


No talking

No touching

Restricted access

Festivals are outside.

Common people.

Festivals are playful.





Museums vs. Festivals
time out of time
Time out of Time
  • Festival a low-resolution medium.
  • Different from books, films, exhibits.
  • Many things happen simultaneously.
  • Not everyone experiences the same thing.
  • Participants report high satisfaction.
chapter 9 the festival of india
Chapter 9The Festival of India
  • Festival of India enacted in 1985.
  • Total budget of $15 million.
  • Typical NJFF budget is $40K.
  • Festival of India was 375 times more costly.
aditi a celebration of life
Aditi: A Celebration of Life
  • Exhibit at National Museum of Natural History, June-July, 1985.
    • Fertility
    • Marriage
    • Conception
    • Birth
    • Childhood
    • Moving out
mela an indian fair
Mela! An Indian Fair
  • Part of the 1985 Smithsonian Festival.
  • A fair with craft, performance, foodways.
  • Some 45 structures were built.
  • Sound = drums and songs.
  • Touch = acrobats and jugglers.
  • Sight = magicians and toymakers.
  • Smells = incense and cosmetics.
indian folk artists
Indian Folk Artists
  • Forgotten and neglected artists.
  • Poverty-stricken and low-caste.
    • Musicians
    • Puppeteers
    • Jugglers
    • Acrobats
    • Street performers
transformation of status
Transformation of Status
  • Street performers in India regarded as beggars.
  • Their art was regarded as a sham, a means to solicit donations.
  • In Washington, they became India’s “foremost cultural ambassadors.”
  • Status inversion with middle-class, older volunteers.
coconut leaf fronds for roofing
Coconut Leaf Fronds for Roofing
  • Excellent roofing material in India.
  • Fumigated in India to keep out parasites.
  • Fumigant made leaves flammable.
  • Leaves dipped in fire retardant.
  • The roofs leaked.
problems of cultural presentation
Problems of Cultural Presentation
  • Monkey men hid in trees.
  • Threw branches at the crowd.
  • Scamper and yell.
  • Officials worried about the trees.
  • Warnings ignored by monkey men.
craft sales
Craft Sales
  • Craftspeople wanted to keep all the profit.
  • Musicians and performers objected.
  • Performance attracts people to bazaar.
  • Smithsonian comes up with formula.
  • Basic price doubled; excess profit shared.
brokering life
Brokering Life
  • Street acrobatics, juggling, and puppetry were legitimated by Smithsonian.
  • Participants encouraged to demonstrate their art, skill, and knowledge.
  • Participants encouraged to speak for themselves.
  • Festival brought attention to their cause.
chapter 15 conclusion
Chapter 15Conclusion
  • Who speaks for culture?
  • Cultural scholars and curators?
  • Politicians, journalists, filmmakers?
  • Television producers, theme parks?
  • Tour operators, novelists?
  • Public relations firms?
what s out what s in

Worn out




Giving to







Sharing with


What’s Out, What’s In
what s out what s in31

Curator director

Thing skills

Market averse

Government money



General manager

People skills

Market aware

Earning money


What’s Out, What’s In
smithsonian folklife festival 2005
Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2005
  • National Mall in Washington, D.C.
  • June 23 to June 27, June 30 to July 4
  • Open daily 11am to 5:30 pm.
  • Oman: Desert, Oases, and Sea
  • Forest Service, 100th Anniversary
  • Nuestra Musica: Music in Latino Culture
  • Food Culture U.S.A.
  • Sultanate of Oman, first time an Arab nation will be featured.
  • Musicians
  • Dancers
  • Craftspeople
  • Cooks
usda forest service
USDA Forest Service
  • Foresters
  • Trail makers
  • Archaeologists
  • Wildlife biologists
  • Engineers
  • Firefighters
  • Woodcarvers
  • Recreation specialists
nuestra musica music in latino culture
Nuestra MusicaMusic in Latino Culture
  • Guatemala
  • Mexico
  • Puerto Rico
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Bolivia
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
food culture usa
Food Culture USA
  • Chocolate to Cheese
  • Tradition/Adaptation
  • Slow Roast Area
  • The Spice Cupboard
  • The Herb Garden