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The repository of objects and materials documenting the traditional culture of Michigan houses archival and fieldwork research completed by staff, students, contracted consultants, and donations from individuals. The collections also contain comparative materials from all over the world. 3,000 objects, over 4,000 audio tapes of interview and musical performances, 85,000 photographic images, 3,000 fieldwork reports, and vertical files of reference materials on a variety of folklife subjects make up the collections.
Special attention is also given to collecting materials from annual Michigan Heritage Awardees and participants in the Great Lakes Folk Festival and the Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. The Michigan Traditional Arts Program staff strives to include community representatives in the planning process of projects or programs that result in the development of collections.