News

Tiny Pop-Up Museum in New York Freight Elevator

Check out this story from NPR! Three filmmakers from New York have converted a vacant, unusable freight elevator into a tiny museum. It is simply called “Museum.” They collect objects that interest them and display them in this unique space. View their website here. Pop-up libraries, museums, restaurants, and shops are happening all over the…

Ciesa Design’s Great Lakes Folk Festival Poster Takes Home the Gold

The Mid-Michigan Creative Alliance awards were held on February 13, 2014. Long-time Great Lakes Folk Festival poster designers, Ceisa Design, took home 7 awards, including a Gold award for the 2013 Great Lakes Folk Festival poster. We sure loved this design, didn’t you?   By Micah Ling

Classic Performances from the 1989 Festival of Michigan Folklife: Howard Armstrong and Ted Bogan

African American String Band Musicians Howard Armstrong (1909-2003) and Ted Bogan (1910-1990)   The one-and-only Howard Armstrong made several memorable appearances at folklife festivals produced by the Michigan State University Museum, beginning with the 1988 Festival of Michigan Folklife and ending in 2002 with its successor, the Great Lakes Folk Festival. None were more memorable…

Pete Seeger, In Memoriam

On January 24th, 2014, acclaimed folk singer, activist, and inspiration Pete Seeger passed away. Our colleagues at Smithsonian Folkways have produced a wonderful piece paying tribute to his life and memory. Please read it here.   “To my old brown earth And to my old blue sky I’ll now give these last few molecules of…

Meet Andy Birko, Bandura Maker from Rochester Hills, Michigan

  To meet Andy Birko is to be immersed in the world of the bandura, a fretless, plucked stringed instrument that is the national instrument of the Ukraine and an important identity symbol for Ukrainian Americans. On a blustery April day in 2013, I traveled to Sterling Heights in Metro Detroit to attend the spring…

Michigan Folksong Legacy: Alan Lomax’s 1938 Folksong Collecting Trip

“Michigan proved to be the most richly varied region for folk music that I had ever visited, combining as it did the lusty tradition of the Northern woods singer with an infinitely varied pattern of immigrant European, Indian, and even Appalachian and Southern Negro music.” Alan Lomax, 1939   In 1938, a young folk music…

Classic Performances from the 1989 Festival of Michigan Folklife: Wade and Julia Mainer- Old-Time Country Musicians

The legendary banjo picker Wade Mainer is perhaps most associated with his North Carolina mountain roots, where he developed his distinctive two-finger banjo picking style that set the stage for the three-finger bluegrass banjo styles of Snuffy Jenkins and Earl Scruggs. Throughout his life, Mainer maintained the distinction between the hard-driving bluegrass sound and his…

A Family Tradition of Laotian-Hmong Weaving

Nhu Fang Yang (1911-?) and Ia Moua Yang, Detroit 1989 Festival of Michigan Folklife, East Lansing   Nhu Fang Yang learned the art of weaving on a back-strap loom from her mother, a master weaver in their small northern Laotian village. By the time Nhu married at age 16, she had mastered the skills necessary…

A Family Tradition of Ice Fishing Decoys

Myron “Mike” Ballard (1917 – 2005) 1989 Festival of Michigan Folklife, East Lansing The 1989 Festival of Michigan Folklife, produced by the MSU Museum and held on the campus of Michigan State University, featured the theme “family traditions. One such family tradition was carried on by three generations of ice fishing decoy carvers: 1990 Michigan…

Keeping Polish Traditions Alive in Lansing

The Federated Polish Home of Lansing, Michigan has been a center for local Polish American culture and social life since 1929. The home houses branches of three national organizations—Polish Falcons of America, Polish National Alliance, and White Eagle Association. In 2013, a National Endowment for the Arts grant to the Michigan State University Museum supported…