Museums and folk art collections

For anyone interested in traditional dance or other aspects of traditional culture, visits to the several museums of folk art are a good starting point. These give an impressive, if somewhat fossilised, picture of the decorative and utilitarian objects characteristic of particular places and particular periods. Costumes and ornaments, tools and vessels, furniture and dwellings, all transport the visitor into the world of yesteryear. The more carefully considered the presentation, the more convincing, vivid and lasting the impression it creates.

Of course, the exhibits of most interest to the members of a folk dance group are the costumes, but there are also other objects which could enrich the props used in a performance. All the museums of folk art have costume collections and those displayed tend to be the most elaborate, either those of the bride and groom or those of the wealthy. When the ordinary folk danced they wore much plainer clothes, with much less embroidery and fewer adornments, a fact forgotten by most folk dance troupes which tend to make poor imitations of the richer costumes, rather than good copies of the everyday attire.

There are folk art museums in all the major towns and in numerous villages, as well as several private collections up and down the country. Many museums have obliging specialists on the staff who willingly supply all manner of useful information on the local costumes, jewellery, musical instruments and other objects, as well as details of how they were made and even the names of craftsmen still working today, who are able to make copies. Quite often they also know of local dance groups and musicians, not to mention reliable informants, relevant books and publications, as well as a host of resources on local folklore and related activities.