Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Folklife presentation, education, and research began at the Smithsonian Institution in 1967 with the first annual Festival of American Folklife held on the National Mall. To this day, the festival features performers, crafts people, and community groups from the United States and foreign countries. The festival was started by folklorist Ralph C. Rinzler (1934-1994). Originally part of the Smithsonian’s Division of Performing Arts, a separate Office of Folklife Programs was created in 1980. In 1987, the office purchased the Folkways music collection which became the core of the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, a rich resource for the study of folk culture and music. In 1998, the Festival was renamed the Smithsonian Folklife Festival to reflect its international interests, and in 1999 the office was renamed the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to reflect its research, as well as public program functions.