The America Folk Art Museum was originally known as the “Museum of Early American Folk Arts”. This was because after it was founded in 1961, it primarily focused on showcasing the vernacular arts of American in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly the northeastern part of the country. Five years later, in 1966, the museum was renamed the Museum of American Folk Art in 1966.
Over the years, it has dedicated itself to the collection, exhibition, and study of American folk art, both traditional as well as contemporary. In the museum’s own words, it’s mission is devotion to
“aesthetic appreciation of traditional folk art and creative expressions of contemporary self-taught artists from the United States and abroad. The museum preserves, conserves, and interprets a comprehensive collection of the highest quality, with objects dating from the eighteenth century to the present.”
Today, in spite of its small size (as compared to some of the gargantuan museums in Manhattan), the museum boasts of a stunning ultra-modern structure. In the permanent exhibits of the museum, you will find a wide range of objects like decorative pottery and boxes, hunting decoys, paintings and crucifixes, weathervanes and religious objects, and portraits.
Among the more popular collections of the museum is a stunning variety of colorful quilts in the textile section, which shows you the intricate art of quilt making. Other notable exhibits include the iconic Flag Gate, Girl in Red Dress with Cat and Dog, the Archangel Gabriel Weathervane, the Bird of Paradise Quilt Top, and the St. Tammany Weathervane.
A walk through the museum gives you a deep insight into the country’s rich cultural heritage and art. Information is readily available pertaining to the history and importance of the work on display. There is a lot of artwork here that you may not find anywhere else, in any other museum of its kind. A trip through the entire museum won’t take you more than a couple of hours.
At the end of the trip don’t forget to peep into one or both the shops in the museum. According to the Zagat Survey, it’s full of “quirky, original, handmade gifts.” If you are fond of handcrafted gift items made in the traditional folk style, this is the place for you. You can find jewelry, frames, toys, personal accessories, home décor items, books, and note cards. The array of objects here are fascinating and you are can’t resist the temptation of picking something up for yourself, your family, or friends.