- Collection ID:
- Physical Description:
3 Cubic feet
754 drawings (visual works)
This collection consists of 754 pen-and-ink, watercolor, and gouache drawings and paintings by artist Lily Spandorf. They depict scenes from various years of the Festival of American Folklife and its successor, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The Lily Spandorf drawings consist of 754 pen-and-ink, watercolor, and gouache drawings and paintings and date from 1967-1998. Some pieces contain drawings on both the recto and verso, and some drawings are unfinished. Lily Spandorf, an Austrian-born, Washington, D.C.-based artist, created the drawings each year at the Festival of American Folklife (later the Smithsonian Folklife Festival) over a thirty-year span. Many Festival programs are represented, particularly the bicentennial programs of 1976.
Many drawings were recieved with no label information, so at present, these drawings remain undated and only very generally described. As more information regarding individual drawings is gathered, more specific descriptive information will be added.
Arranged by size in appropriate folders and boxes (oversized flat boxes and document case) and further arranged by number assigned to drawings. Numbers were randomly assigned to drawings after the collection was acquired and do not reflect a specific order, chronological or otherwise.
Sixteen drawings and paintings are framed and displayed in the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage offices.
Lily Spandorf was born in Vienna, Austria in 1914. An honors graduate of the Vienna Academy of Arts, she left Austria in 1938 to continue her art education at London's St. Martin's School of Art. During World War II, she volunteered for the Red Cross in Scotland. She also worked and lived in Italy, where she became attracted to painting scenes outdoors. She first moved to New York City in 1959, but found the city too vast and hectic and eventually moved to Washington D.C. in 1960, where she settled into an apartment in Dupont Circle.
From the very first Festival of American Folklife (later the Smithsonian Folklife Festival) in 1967, she brought her cart full of materials and supplies to the National Mall and sketched Festival scenes, documenting people, performances, settings, and activities for over three decades. Her work often appeared in the Washington Star newspaper. Her paintings and drawings of Washington, D.C. scenes and cityscapes were featured in a 1988 book called Washington Never More, as well as the Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, and National Geographic. She was also the subject of a documentary film produced and directed by Barr Weissman. In 1988, she was the first local solo artist to be exhibited at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Her annual paintings and drawings of the White House Christmas decorations were acquired by the White House Historical Association, and her work documenting the filming of Advise and Consent was acquired by the U.S. Senate. She continued to produce work until she passed away in February 2000 at the age of 85.
Stephanie Smith, Erin Enos, and Cecilia Peterson
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
The Lily Spandorf drawings were acquired by Richard Kurin, former director of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and Diana Parker, former director of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Thanks to generous donations and support from the Smithsonian Women's Committee and the general public, the Smithsonian purchased Spandorf's drawings from the Lily Spandorf Distribution Trust in 2001.
The Lily Spandorf drawings were initially inventoried and assigned numbers circa 2003. Nearly all the drawings and paintings were digitized by intern Michelline Granjean in 2003. The drawings and paintings were then re-housed and further arranged by RRFAC intern Erin Enos in 2015. A more detailed finding aid was created by Erin Enos and Cecilia Peterson in the same year.
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access note
Access to the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections is by appointment only. Visit our website
for more information on scheduling a visit or making a digitization request. Researchers interested in accessing born-digital records or audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies.
Conditions Governing Use note
Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections. Please visit our website
for more information.
Preferred Citation note
Lily Spandorf drawings, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution.
Shared Stewardship of Collections
Shared Stewardship of Collections
The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage acknowledges and respects the right of artists, performers, Folklife Festival participants, community-based scholars, and knowledge-keepers to collaboratively steward representations of themselves and their intangible cultural heritage in media produced, curated, and distributed by the Center. Making this collection accessible to the public is an ongoing process grounded in the Center's commitment to connecting living people and cultures to the materials this collection represents. To view the Center's full shared stewardship policy, which defines our protocols for addressing collections-related inquiries and concerns, please visit https://folklife.si.edu/archives#shared-stewardship
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
600 Maryland Ave SW