July 11, 2012
The Archives of Traditional Music was one of the units chosen to represent Indiana University at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington D.C. Founded in 1967, the festival is a regular feature of summer activities on the mall and attracts over a million visitors each year. Indiana University was one of sixteen universities that were part of the "Campus and Communities" exhibits for the 2012 festival. The other two exhibit areas of the festival were "Creativity and Crisis," which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the AIDS quilt and displayed some of the 48,000 panels of the quilt while volunteers read names of those who have died of AIDS; and "Citified: Arts and Creativity East of the Anacostia River," which celebrated African American art and culture in the Anacostia community of Washington D.C.
The "Campus and Communities" exhibit featured land grant and public universities with displays on everything from solar energy, beekeeping, Hula dancing, steel bands, mariachi music, paleontology, and robotics. Along with Traditional Arts Indiana, the IU Libraries, and University Information Technology Services (UITS), ATM displayed samples of its holdings and explained to visitors the value of collections like ours. The ATM exhibit consisted of a large touchscreen display with an interactive Google map and 150 audio and video examples from around the world. Using the touchscreen, visitors could spin the globe, find points of interest, and call up an example from ATM collections with a short description of what they were hearing or seeing. Despite temperatures often over 100 degrees, the Festival attracted nearly one million visitors over the course of two weeks in June and July. ATM Director, Alan Burdette, attended on behalf of the Archives and interacted with patrons who came to see what IU had on display. "It was great to meet such a large number of people interested in what ATM has in its holdings. While some had some experience with archival recordings, for many, it was the first time they had encountered ethnographic recordings like ours. Of course, one of the first things people did was to find their home on the globe and then look for recordings that had been made nearby. Or they would look for recordings from a place their family had immigrated from, or that they had recently vacationed in. People were often surprised at what had been documented in places they thought they knew." In addition to greeting visitors to the IU exhibit tent, Dr. Burdette participated in two roundtables that were recorded and are now archived at the American Folklife Center.