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Storied Objects

While this summer’s Making Matters programs were born in response to our COVID world, a quick look back at our Storied Objects collection led us to find some parallel connections between the push to create and the foundation of cultural heritage.

Production can come from necessity. No money for toys leads a young boy to whittle his own. A desire to hear old-time music turns into a lifetime of practice and perfection. Making dance skirts decorated with rows of river reeds combines a young woman’s Catholic faith with a growing awareness of the importance of preserving the local flora. All manner of making things requires observation and learning, skill matched with creativity. None of this would happen without the support of master artisans—sharing their tools and their knowledge—helping us all make sense of our world.

The eight videos below focus on Storied Objects created, used, played, and discussed during past Folklife Festivals. Some are practical, others inspired. All reflect lives made better by sustaining cultural practices that help individuals and their communities overcome adversity, find joy, and heal.

See the full online exhibition, 50 Years | 50 Objects: Storied Objects from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.