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09 Dec 2016

AFAM in Antiques & Fine Art Magazine

In its winter issue, Antiques & Fine Art Magazine published a wonderful, in-depth article about the American Folk Art Museum’s bright future under the leadership of Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice. Read an excerpt below:

“The most pressing agenda item for the American Folk Art Museum’s (AFAM) 2012 Strategic Plan was to find a director. With Anne-Imelda Radice, the museum got their wish—in spades. Within her first month, Radice successfully approached the Luce Foundation to fund a traveling exhibition to prove AFAM was alive and thriving: Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum. Opened in 2014 at AFAM, the show will complete its national tour in January 2017. The run has included six additional museum installations that inform, entertain, and educate visitors about the changing nature of self-taught art, material for which the museum is renowned.

“Radice has been a whirlwind since arriving, stating, ‘I wanted to break the mold of the AFAM of the past.’ The past to which she refers involved a crushing debt resulting from the museum’s presence on West 53rd Street, in an 82-foot-high building designed in 2001 by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien for the museum’s exhibition spaces and offices. Though strikingly sculptural with its nonconformist, undulating copper-bronze façade, and an ode to contemporary architecture, the interior spaces did not lend themselves to exhibitions and the museum was unable to draw the expected crowds, even with its location alongside MoMA. Expenses mounted and AFAM sold the property in 2011 to the neighboring museum.

“The resulting chatter was that AFAM would not survive. Fingers were pointed and questions arose about the future of the collections. Determined to keep the museum solvent, AFAM’s board and staff rolled up their sleeves and, unburdened by the financial behemoth of 53rd Street, moved their headquarters back to property they’d maintained in Lincoln Square, across from Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera House. An interim strategic plan was drawn up in 2012, and when Radice started her tenure in September of that year the budget was minimal, with only a few million in the endowment. With determination from all parties and adjustments to its staffing, the museum has been operating in the black for the past few years, with a budget holding steady at $3.3 to $3.5 million. Fifty-four years after it was founded, the museum is starting fresh, by breaking with its recent past.”

Read the rest of the article at Antiques & Fine Art Magazine.