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The Festival: A View from the Castle

For the past three decades, I've been outdoors on the National Mall, looking up at the Smithsonian Castle, while we prepare for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year, due to transitions in the Smithsonian's leadership, I've watched the preparations through a window in the Castle. What do I make of the Festival from that perspective? How do I understand this annual gathering of people who come from across the country and the planet to share their traditions with other human beings?

When you work in a building funded by a nineteenth-century Englishman's bequest, a building that stores his bones and one that saw the development of the ...

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