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Folklife and the Smithsonian Institution: An Interview with S. Dillon Ripley, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution

A museum should be an open experience. People should be flowing in and out of the buildings, experiencing a sense of connection between their own lives and the history of their culture. And so, when they come into the Smithsonian museums, rather than feeling that they have walked through some invisible barrier into the past, they should enter without any sense of a barrier, carrying the present with them and realizing that the past is alive, that the past is a part of them, and that the past has messages for them.

These messages are that people are individuals, that they make things, that they sing and dance and play creatively, that they don

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