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Smithsonian Institution Secretary David Skorton playing the flute

Welcome to Smithsonian Music

Whether it is turtle-shell rattles at the American Indian Museum, ancient Chinese bells at the Freer and Sackler Galleries, or the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra at the American History Museum, the opportunities to engage with music at the Smithsonian are practically endless. They extend far beyond just listening to music to include learning about the history and impact of music through the Institution’s collections, including its wide-ranging selection of sheet music, historically important instruments, including an 18th century Stradiavari violin, and exhibitions and public events. These examples represent just a fraction of the opportunities to experience music at the Smithsonian. Each of the institution’s 19 museums and many of its research centers have assets showcasing music—of nearly every genre, from every walk of life, from 10,000 B.C. to the present.

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Sixty Musical Treasures at the Smithsonian

From Louis Armstrong’s trumpet to Grandmaster Flash’s turntable and from a Central African harp to an Apache violin, these objects represent just a sampling of how music is collected, curated and studied at the Smithsonian. Explore these photographs, objects, and artifacts that help explain how music infuses our everyday life, brightening it with its sounds and beats.

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Music at the Smithsonian

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