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31 Aug 2020

The American Folk Art Museum Receives a Save America’s Treasures Grant

(New York, August 31, 2020) — The American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) has been awarded a
federal Save America’s Treasures grant to preserve and digitize materials in its Henry Darger

“We are grateful to the National Park Service and its partners for making this important project
achievable,” said Jason T. Busch, Director of AFAM. “With this grant, we can continue to deepen
our understanding of Henry Darger, one of the most significant self-taught artists of the twentieth
century. We look forward to sharing more of his work with researchers, artists, and students for
generations to come.”

The American Folk Art Museum is home to the single largest public repository of artworks and
writings by Henry Darger (1892–1973). This invaluable trove includes the artist’s personal
archives, source material, and library. Lesser known than his large-scale, double-sided watercolor
panoramas is the artist’s extensive writing activity, which is highly connected with his visual art
practice. The Save America’s Treasures grant will support the conservation and digitization of the
first seven volumes of Darger’s 15,145-page epic, The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known
as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave
Rebellion (also referred to as In the Realms of the Unreal) and will help AFAM to address the very
fragile condition of these fascinating typescript and handwritten volumes.

“While our ultimate goal is to preserve and give international access to the vast production of
Darger, the grant offers a critical step toward an aggregated research portal on this complex artist,”
said Valérie Rousseau, AFAM’s Senior Curator. “Our goal is to create a platform that is a
comprehensive resource on Darger, leading to original scholarship and permitting cross-referenced
observations of his creative endeavors. This project reaffirms the museum’s commitment to
Darger’s archives.”

Darger has been the subject of numerous exhibitions at the museum, including Dargerism:
Contemporary Artists and Henry Darger (2008), Henry Darger: The Certainties of War
(2010/2011), and Vestiges and Verse: Notes from the Newfangled Epic (2018).
The Save America’s Treasures (SAT) program is administered by the National Park Service in
cooperation with its partners, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment
for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Established in 1998, the program
helps preserve nationally significant historic properties and collections that convey our nation’s rich
heritage to future generations.

Commented IMLS Director Cosby Kempner: “As pillars of our communities, libraries and
museums bring people together by providing important programs, services, and collections. These
institutions are trusted spaces where people can learn, explore, and grow. IMLS is proud to support
their initiatives through our grants as they educate and enhance their communities.”

About the American Folk Art Museum

Since 1961, the American Folk Art Museum has been the leading institution shaping the
understanding of art by the self-taught through its exhibitions, publications, and educational
programs. As a center of scholarship, it showcases the creativity of individuals whose singular
talents have been refined through personal experience rather than formal artistic training. Its
collection includes more than eight thousand works of art from four centuries and nearly every
continent—from compelling portraits and dazzling quilts to powerful works by living artists in a
variety of mediums. The museum will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2021.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the
nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries,
and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a
nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and
communities. To learn more, visit