Dear members and friends,
I am so very pleased to report on recent news and upcoming events.
Two short weeks ago, at the Pierre Hotel in New York City, the American Folk Art Museum was the beneficiary of the generosity of more than 512 people who came out in celebration of our many, many treasures. Top among these was Joyce Berger Cowin, whose longtime dedication to the Museum has enabled it to thrive. Joyce Cowin’s leadership over the past four decades, in addition to her work as a trustee throughout the past twenty years, has made it possible for people all over the world to experience the wonders of folk art. Her 1988 vision for the gallery space at 2 Lincoln Square was especially prescient—a stroke of genius. The Gala was a tribute to this remarkable woman, who has honored the Museum with her generosity and wise counsel.
Additionally, the event honored Margaret Boles Fitzgerald, Chairman of the Henry Luce Foundation, which is now making a national tour of Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum to six cities across the country possible. The acclaimed exhibition opens on November 15 at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, giving Midwesterners an especially rare opportunity to experience the Museum and its collection. I will be traveling to the Figge with Stacy C. Hollander, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, Chief Curator, and Director of Exhibitions, to attend her presentation at the exhibition symposium, and we look forward to meeting friends in the area.
Last but certainly not least, the Gala heralded Richard Walker, general counsel of Deutsche Bank, for his passion for folk art and for the company’s support of innovative educational programs. Richard’s dedication to the museum made the event especially successful, and we are grateful.
Very special thanks go to Gala chairs Peyton Cochran, Lucy and Mike Danziger, and Nancy and Michael Druckman. Mrs. Danziger, a longtime Museum trustee, has been a tireless supporter, side-by-side with Mrs. Cowin. Thanks also to Kristina Lopez and to Richard Parsons, husband of American Folk Art Museum Chairman Laura Parsons. Richard led a live auction, which inspired guests to donate additional funds for educational programs. His own message about the importance of the museum also touched our hearts.
I could not be happier or more proud, and I know the Museum’s board and staff share my gratitude.
It was a special honor for me to report on the Museum’s progress “by the numbers” for fiscal year 2014: the Museum had more than 115,000 visitors at 2 Lincoln Square (up 30% from the previous year); an average of 19 events per month; and a 73% increase in students grades K–12, all at an admission charge of $0.00.
The truly wonderful evening concluded with dancing and the lively tunes of Element Music.
A New Initiative
Let me share more good news: a major advancement, more than a year in the making, is soon to reach fruition. We invite you to experience an up-to-the-moment online presentation that will reintroduce you to the American Folk Art Museum and enable you to share our treasures with ease and improved access. On November 17—in about one week—the Museum will launch its new, expanded, and greatly improved website. The new site will enhance and increase access to six decades of scholarship and the Museum’s collection. Web visitors will find instant information about upcoming programs and special events while learning even more about exhibitions on view. Additional new features and functionalities include an expanded collection section; an image-driven presentation of content; social media integration; more descriptive and illuminating exhibition pages; and a fully responsive design, which makes the new site mobile- and tablet-friendly. More than that, the new site is people-friendly, and welcomes visitors of all ages. Megan Conway, the Museum’s Director of Publications and Website, served as project manager and we at the Museum applaud her. Brooklyn United, a New York–based Interactive firm, provided creative services and developed the new site. We are eager for your feedback and hope to hear from you once you’ve had a chance to browse the new site.
The website redevelopment was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services Grant Award #MA-10-0181-13. The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development, and research helps libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. We are honored to receive this prestigious award.
Celebrate the Holidays with the American Folk Art Museum
The holiday season approaches, and the Museum is celebrating in many ways. The first-ever FAB FOLK FEST begins on Thursday, December 4 and continues through Tuesday, December 9. FAB FOLK FEST I is a special holiday treat for Shop visitors seeking a wide array of unusual and artisanal gift ideas and items, from fashion and accessories to objets d’art. Artists and designers will be on site at the Shop to talk about their work and provide demonstrations, and Museum members will receive a special double discount of 20% off. Best of all: seasonal refreshments will be served.
A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America
A wonderful and historic exhibition opens on December 14. A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America will feature more than sixty artworks from the Barbara L. Gordon collection made between 1800 and 1920. Portraits and other paintings, commercial and highly personal sculptures, and distinctive examples of furniture will all be on view in a delightful presentation. The works of art tell stories about events and occurrences of historic importance. In the years before news media—publishing giants, television, radio, and the digital age—folk artists helped to convey incidents of national significance. The works of art on view in A Shared Legacy are imbued with beauty, skill, and meaning beyond their original purpose. On behalf of my colleagues, I wish to thank HISTORY® for their generous support of A Shared Legacy‘s presentation in New York at the Museum, which is simply perfect for the holidays: family-friendly, colorful, fun, and insightful—a warm, uplifting, and enjoyable way to celebrate the upcoming season of good cheer.
Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice
Image: from left, Gala Honorees Margaret Boles Fitzgerald, Richard Walker, and Joyce Berger Cowin.