• Princes Yellow-cloud guitar
  • U.S. Navy Band
  • Ty Defoe (Oneida/Ojibwe)
  • Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles

Smithsonian Year of Music 2019

365 days of music at the Smithsonian


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, exhibitions, and events.

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

Virtually everybody engages with music, and we see this across eras and cultures. People work and relax with music, celebrate and mourn with music; court and fight with music. It provides a sense of well-being, of identity, and of community. Music is not only a reflection of human creativity and innovation that has led to a stunning diversity of styles and genres, but also a key method of communication and cross-cultural exchange and understanding.

The world’s musical heritage is richly represented at the Smithsonian’s museums and research centers. In addition to well-known centers for music, like the Musical Crossroads exhibition at the National Museum for African American History and Culture, or the 60,000 tracks available online through Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, music lives in unexpected places, such as the Landauer Collection of Aeronautical Sheet Music at the National Air and Space Museum Library, and the enormous collection of instruments from around the world at the National Museum of Natural History. Even the National Zoological Park studies and documents the songs of animals.

In April 2018, Secretary Skorton announced 2019 will be the Smithsonian Year of Music, an Institution-wide initiative to increase public engagement, advance understanding, and connect communities in Washington, D.C., across the nation, and around the globe. The Smithsonian Year of Music will highlight and share with the public the vast musical holdings across the Smithsonian, bringing together our music resources in history, art, culture, science, and education to engage the public and increase awareness of music at the Smithsonian. 

Stay tuned for “365 Days of Music at the Smithsonian” in 2019, featuring  a variety of music-related activities: performances, music releases, exhibitions, workshops, educational programs, lectures, films, and conferences. The 2019 Smithsonian Folklife Festival will focus on the “Social Power of Music.”

This website will host much of the digital Smithsonian Year of Music 2019 content, including an event calendar, highlighted programming, and collections, partners, and collaborations.

Check back for updates throughout 2018 and 2019, as the events calendar expands.