This is the third segment in a series of posts entitled, “Collection Glimpses.” Each post in the series focuses on a unique collection, innovative repository, or a not well known cultural heritage institution. The first post highlighted the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archive and the second installment focused on the Gardiner Museum.
Established in 1961, the American Folk Art Museum is dedicated to the display, preservation, and interpretation of traditional folk art and contemporary self-taught artists from the United States and internationally. The museum hold folk art items from the eighteenth century to the present.
In addition to an extensive collection dedicated to traditional folk art of all mediums and contexts, the Museum’s Contemporary Center highlights recent works of art and culture which reflect the ongoing tradition of self-taught artistry in the United States. The Center presents lectures, symposia, and special events. A portion of the Center’s contemporary works can be viewed online.
Other than the unique items in the collection, the factor which makes the American Folk Art Museum stand apart is the museum’s commitment to outreach and educational programming. The Museum has an extensive collection focused lecture, tour, and workshop schedule. Other outreach initiatives include hands on DIY craft sessions, guitar afternoons, and free music Fridays.
For those interested in American folk art and not unable to visit the museum, there are a wide array of social media and digital display techniques used by the museum. The museum has digitized a number of items and made them available via an image gallery. Additionally, in the past the Museum has produced some exhibit specific apps and digital promotions. The “Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts” app is an interesting example of an app allowing remote access to an exhibit.
Overall, the abundance of digital resource and research potential provided by the American Folk Art Museum left me longing for a Canadian equivalent. The Canadian Museum of Civilization does collect Canadian Folk art, however at the moment that collection isn’t overly accessible in a digital format.