Skip to main content
Previous | Next >

2001 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

June 27-July 8, 2001

Moreso than monuments, buildings, museum-quality artifacts, historical facts, or even valued performances, the Festival celebrates the people who make them, hold them in esteem, and debate their meaning. The Festival represents a wonderful range and diversity of voices and human experiences. The 2001 Festival featured programs on the building arts, New York City, and Bermuda.

The Masters of the Building Arts program brought together expert craftspeople in the building trades, including many who use traditional arts to restore our monuments and historic sites. Among them visitors could find many of the artisans who have worked on the Washington Monument, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Acoma Pueblo, historic Charleston, and Native Hawaiian sites - all important monuments protected by the National Park Service, the Smithsonian's partner in the Festival since 1973.

The New York City program highlighted the way in which that city has become the global village. Broadway, the fashion industry, the Apollo Theater, and Wall Street were all featured. So too was the vital cultural creativity that has come about as people from the world over have settled in New York. The Festival provided a contemporary look at immigration and its importance to our culture. The fact that so many people from every corner of the earth have come to our shores through New York in order to build their lives and our nation has inspired generations, and the Festival offered the opportunity to encounter those communities and experience their cultural heritage.

Bermuda, though separated from the United States by hundreds of miles of ocean, has long played a role in our history. Bermuda was settled by colonists on their way to Jamestown, Virginia, where they rescued starving survivors of that colony. ln the last century, Bermuda, always entrepreneurial and selfreliant, has developed tourism and financial industries in a symbiotic relationship with the United States. Bermudians foster strong community connections within their own island society, as well as those of commerce, culture, and cooperation with the people of nations whose shores touch the Atlantic Ocean. Festival visitors could transport themselves to a tiny island of Bermuda within the Festival site on the National Mall, experiencing its cultural traditions through interaction with Bermudian participants.

The Festival always depends on solid research. Several dozen Bermudian scholars, educators, and artists working with Smithsonian curator Diana Baird N'Diaye interviewed hundreds of tradition-bearers, documenting everything from gardening to house-building to music-making. That documentary archive of tapes, photographs, field notes, and videos constitutes a snapshot of Bermudian culture and provided the basis for the Festival program, as well as a resource for the future. A similar effort took place New York City, where folklorist Nancy Groce directed the curatorial work - selecting the traditions to feature at the Festival and the people to present them - aided by cultural organizations in the city, among them the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, City Lore, and the Museum of American Financial History, a Smithsonian affiliate. Masters of the Building Arts grew from the vision of the Smithsonian's Marjorie Hunt, guided by her own long-term research on the stone carvers of the National Cathedral.

The 2001 Festival took place during two five-day weeks (June 27-July 1 and July 4-8) between Madison Drive and Jefferson Drive and between 9th Street and 13th Street, south of the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of Natural History.

Previous | Next >

Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, sustainability projects, educational outreach, and more.