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


Marvin Gaye on stage in a pink jacket and silvery shirt, hands both raised, and sweat on his brow.
On view until April 2024

Spirit in the Dark: Religion in Black Music, Activism and Popular Culture
National Museum of African American History and Culture

Spirit in the Dark examines Black religious life through a selection of photographs from the Johnson Publishing Company, publisher of Ebony, Jet, and Negro Digest. The images in the exhibition spotlight noteworthy individuals and uplift objects from the museum’s collection, many on display for the first time. Together they reflect diverse aspects of the Black religious experience and testify to the role religion has played in the struggle for human dignity and social equality.

Illustration of a Black mother and child sitting against a tree among wildflowers, next to a blue river. White text in the sky reads: Everyone deserves clean air and water.
On view until January 2024

To Live and Breathe: Women and Environmental Justice in Washington, D.C.
Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum

Women have led the environmental justice movement. Women are often the ones who notice patterns of disease in their communities, fight to protect their families and neighbors, and bear the burden of health disparities. In this exhibition, explore how local women of color draw on a long history of activism and advance environmental justice efforts not only in D.C., but across the country and beyond. 

Black and white photograph of Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing and holding a guitar.
On view until February 2024

Music HerStory: Women and Music of Social Change
National Museum of American History

From our earliest musical encounters to the formation of complex social identities, the American musical landscape wouldn’t be what it is today without the countless contributions of women changemakers, groundbreakers, and tradition-bearers. Women’s leadership in music and social change is central to the American story. Music HerStory explores these contributions through unique media collections from across the Smithsonian.

Digital illustration of Black faces, a compass rose, and a galaxy formation.
On view until August 2024

Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures
National Museum of African American History and Culture

Investigating Afrofuturist expression through art, music, activism and more, this exhibition explores and reveals Afrofuturism’s historic and poignant engagement with African American history and popular culture. From the enslaved looking to the cosmos for freedom to popular sci-fi stories inspiring Black astronauts, to the musical influence of Sun Ra, OutKast, Janelle Monae, P-Funk, and more, this exhibition covers the broad and impactful spectrum of Afrofuturism.

Painting of multi-armed goddesses sitting cross-legged in a mountainous painted landscape.
On view indefinitely

The Art of Knowing in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas
National Museum of Asian Art

The Art of Knowing brings together highlights from our collections to explore religious and practical knowledge across time, space, and cultures. Featuring stone sculptures, gilt bronzes, and painted manuscripts from India, Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia, this exhibition illuminates the critical role of visual culture in conveying Buddhist and Hindu teachings from the ninth to the twentieth centuries.

Past Events

The Potomac River, with a single rower heading upriver, and the buildings of the Kennedy Center in the background.
March 22–April 22, 2023

RiverRun Festival
Kennedy Center

Spanning World Water Day to Earth Day, RiverRun invites hundreds of extraordinary talents from around the world—musicians, actors, dancers, authors, filmmakers, chefs, and visual artists—to converge in Washington, D.C. RiverRun will carve an artistic path through the stages, grand halls, and terraces of the Kennedy Center as well as the studios and green spaces of the REACH.

Computer model  image of visitors in a museum gallery, examining a digital tabletop display.
Friday, June 9

Opening Day
Lillian and Albert Small Capital Jewish Museum

The first museum of its kind dedicated to celebrating the history of the Jewish experience in the nation’s capital will open the doors to its new home at 575 Third Street, NW, in Washington, D.C. The museum engages visitors in humanities-based exhibitions and programs that explore themes of immigration, cultural identity, civics, social activism, and more.

Digital flyer with text: Roadwork and Strathmore present Songs of the Living Community Sing with Toshi Reagon. Learn songs from Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower. Black-and-white photo of a person sitting on stage with acoustic guitar, one hand outstretched, on a purple background.
Saturday, June 10, 6–8 p.m.

Songs of the Living Community Sing
All Souls Church, 1500 Harvard St. NW D.C.

In conjunction with musical performances of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, Roadwork Center and Strathmore present a participatory event for the community. Registered attendees will receive a playlist and lyrics of songs that will be rehearsing together at the event. Presented with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Four people pose outdoors with their musical instruments: banjo, harmonica, fiddle, and acoustic guitar.
Friday, June 30, 6 p.m.

The Ozark Highballers
Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

The Ozark Highballers are a three- to four-piece string band from Fayetteville, Arkansas. Since 2014, they have brought their music to square dances, farmers markets, festivals, workshops, and more. Their music reflects the spirit and drive of the rural Ozark string bands of the 1920s and ’30s. Presented in collaboration with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Five people dressed in white play drums and string instruments.
Friday, July 7, 6 p.m.

Raj Academy
Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

Raj Academy believes in enhancing “connections,” be it spiritually, mentally, physically, or emotionally. Since 1994, the Raj Academy has been the world’s leading educational institute and charity for using the science of sound from Sikh music to heal the mind. Presented in collaboration with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Four people on a fashion runway wearing brightly colored dresses and felt crowns.
Tuesday, July 11, 7:30–9 p.m.

The Soul of Tengri Fashion Show
National Museum of Asian Art

Join the Smithsonian Artisan Initiative for a fashion show celebrating the close of the Soul of Tengri, a pop-up program showcasing Kazakh craft traditions at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Presented in the museum’s Meyer Auditorium, the fashion show will feature collections by three Kazakh artisans: Aizhan Bekkulova, Tilek Sultan, and Aizhan Sembiqaliyeva. It will highlight the unique textile and jewelry-making traditions of Kazakhstan.

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