• West African drums and dance
  • Wild Anacostias in front of the Smithsonian Castle
  • Taiko drummers Freer|Sackler
  • Smithsonian Receives Brian Setzer’s Gretsch Guitar
  • Latino Center: Concert

Smithsonian Music

Did you know? 

The Smithsonian’s combined musical resources constitute the world’s largest museum of music. Music is an integral part of the Smithsonian’s connective tissue, spanning a remarkable number and diversity of collections, programs, and exhibitions.

If you listen closely, the Smithsonian is not as quiet as you might think!

The Beat Goes On? How 2020 Changed Music


A round-table conversation about how the challenges of 2020 have affected the ways we make, experience, and think about music, featuring musicians, music industry professionals, educators, and Smithsonian curators.

This event was part of the 24 hours in a Time of Change program, a digital story collecting initiative:
In the video above, on December 11, 2020, ten Smithsonian museums and units took a snapshot of this moment in history, offering a moment for reflection, and sharing perspectives.

The Smithsonian also invited the public to share stories that were featured on a companion website that posed the following question: 

How has your experience with music changed in 2020?

What happens when music making as we know it disappears—when the very act of singing together or going to a concert becomes dangerous? And then, how and why does music continue to function as an important tool for bringing people together? In a year defined by life under quarantine and social distancing, and a public reckoning about centuries of systemic racism and the calls for social justice, our experiences with music—to pray, to heal, to express sorrow and joy, to show solidarity and to protest, to celebrate loved ones, and to mourn—have changed dramatically.

People are finding new ways to enjoy and make music together, from balcony and backyard recitals to live streaming experiences to virtual choirs of individually recorded performances. Music has maintained a vital role in our collective experience, despite, or perhaps, because of the challenging circumstances that we face.

Learn more about the program and read the submitted stories

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Featured Music Programs

Music comes alive at the Smithsonian with performances by local artists and world-renowned masters.