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In addition to daily performances and activities on the National Mall, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival organizes and recommends events and exhibitions at other Smithsonian museums and venues around Washington, D.C. All events are free unless otherwise noted.

As a public health precaution, the Smithsonian museums in D.C. and New York City will temporarily close starting March 14 to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Upcoming Events

Earth Optimism Summit 2020
April 23–25, 2020

Earth Optimism Summit 2020
Digital event

Presented by the Smithsonian Conservation Commons on the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, the digital event will showcase stories of both small and large-scale actions that frame the conversation and demonstrate that success is possible. The in-person Earth Optimism 2020 Summit will be postponed to a later date.


Deep Time

Deep Time
National Museum of Natural History
Permanent exhibition

The new, 31,000-square-foot fossil hall invites you to explore the epic story of how Earth’s distant past is connected to the present and informs our future. Discover how human actions are driving Earth’s rapidly changing climate today much like long-ago geological events did in the past.


Various Smithsonian museums on the National Mall
On view until December 2020

Through fourteen outdoor installations, this Smithsonian Gardens exhibition tells diverse stories about habitats and the plants, animals, and humans that call them home. The installations share one big idea: protecting habitats protects life. Folklife Festival technical staff and Tech-Teach students assisted in the construction and installation of several HABITAT structures.


Nature by Design
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York City
On view until September 7, 2020

Discover how nature and design have intersected in the past and continue to converge in our world. Through textiles, jewelry, furniture, cutlery, and more, learn how designers across the centuries have observed nature, investigated its materials, and imitated and abstracted its patterns and shapes.

Unsettled Nature

Unsettled Nature: Artists Reflect on the Age of Humans
National Museum of Natural History
On view March 18, 2020–April 21, 2021

In this multimedia exhibition, seven contemporary artists challenge viewers to think about the changes we make to our planet. Through photography, sound-based installations, living pieces, and textile and tapestry, these sixteen works of art ask visitors to consisder how they are shaping the planet and what world they envision for the future.

Past Events

Stemming the Tide Symposium
March 5–6, 2020

Stemming the Tide Symposium: Global Strategies for Sustaining Cultural Heritage through Climate Change
Various locations in Washington, D.C.

This series of presentations will examine the impact of climate change on cultural heritage and communities worldwide, discuss the responsibilities of stewards of cultural heritage in fostering collaborative solutions, address urgent questions of equity and inclusion, and identify strategies that leverage cultural heritage for climate action. The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage will host a breakout session in intangible cultural heritage. Registration is required, with a fee of $75.

Mother Tongue Film Festival 2020
February 20–23, 2020

Mother Tongue Film Festival 2020
Various locations in Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian’s Mother Tongue Film Festival celebrates cultural and linguistic diversity by showcasing films and filmmakers from around the world over four days of free screenings in Washington, D.C. Through digital storytelling, the festival amplifies the work of diverse practitioners who explore the power of language to connect the past, present, and future. Presented by the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Museum of the American Indian.

Earth Optimism Summit 2020
January 24, 2020, 4–7 p.m.

Film Screening: Candomblé & Religious Intolerance
Ralph Bunche Center, Howard University
2218 Sixth St NW, Washington, D.C.

In recognition of the Day of Religious Intolerance, join us for a special screening of Mulheres de Axé and Um Dia no Ilè—two films that honor, explore, and highlight the Afro-Brazilian religious practice of Candomblé. Following the films, members of Casa de Oxumaré (one of Bahia’s oldest and most respected Candomblé centers) and filmmaker Marcos Rezende will join via webcast for a discussion on critical issues surrounding racial, social, and faith-based tensions in Brazil. Presented by the Festival’s Brazil in D.C. initiative in partnership with Coletivo de Entidades Negras and Howard University’s ¡Changó! student group.

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