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 of 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 Smithsonian's Zoo studies and documents the songs of animals.
Smithsonian Year of Music
The Smithsonian Year of Music is 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 highlights and shares our vast musical holdings, bringing together our resources in history, art, culture, science, and education.
The Smithsonian Year of Music features “365 Days of Music at the Smithsonian” with a variety of music-related activities: performances, music releases, exhibitions, workshops, educational programs, lectures, films, and conferences. The 2019 Smithsonian Folklife Festival is focused on the “Social Power of Music.”
On December 12–14, 2019, the Future of Music Public Forum features visions regarding the future of music from artistic, technological, sociological, legal, business, and educational perspectives, for both industry insiders and the general public of music enthusiasts.
Launch your exploration of music at the Smithsonian here at music.si.edu and stay tuned for special performances and events, highlighted programming and collections, partners and collaborations. Much more to come!
Discover Music at the Smithsonian
We have lots of special music programming cued up. Let the music begin!