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Smithsonian Folklife


The Lore:

Some of the oldest performance venues in the United States aren’t theaters. For hundreds or even thousands of years, people in the Ozarks region of Missouri and Arkansas have used underground caves for shelter and entertainment. There are more than a few kinds of caves in the Ozark region, but what’s important to know is that for 700 million years, they formed slowly, winding their way through deposits of limestone. A huge concentration—around 7,000—sit in the Missouri-Arkansas area, and a small set of these have been developed by the people of the Ozarks into performance venues, cared for by families of music lovers. Lying deep in the Ozark Mountains, the Ozark show caves are part of a vast underground network that has quietly shaped culture for centuries.




In one of our most proud assignments, ALT went deep into the Ozark underground to explore in person the fabulous Showcaves of Missouri, learning along the way about their special musical and historical heritage, and their unique geology. With the editors at Smithsonian Folklife Magazine, ALT developed readable research on The Lore of Missouri’s Show Caves, created exclusively for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage ! This was our dream come true, as Smithsonian Folklife is one of our role models.

Read our article here:

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