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Field News
18 Nov 2021


(New York, New York)—The American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) announced today the findings of a research and digitization project related to its wildfowl decoy collection. With support from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, the Museum worked with esteemed experts in the field whose findings are now accessible via the Museum’s website. Over thirty significant examples from the decoy collection will be presented in MULTITUDES, which opens on January 21, 2022. 

“We are grateful for the opportunity to take a closer look at a foundational part of our collection,” said Emelie Gevalt, Curatorial Chair for Collections at AFAM. “Thanks to the Gardiner Foundation, and with the expertise of our staff and partners, we have significant findings to share with the public.” 

As part of the project, the Museum invited four decoy specialists to assess its collection. In July 2021, all 260 decoys were temporarily displayed at the Museum’s location in Long Island City, Queens. Utilizing historical records and scientific data, the specialists worked with Museum staff to review each object. The project led to new attributions for nearly two dozen individual decoys and enhanced catalog records to confirm geographic regions, species, and date ranges.

Commented Project Coordinator Aimee Lusty: “It’s exciting to know that the entire collection is now publicly accessible on the Museum’s website. I am pleased that our work will help inform the ongoing interpretation of these objects.”

About the Museum’s Decoy Collection

Comprising more than 200 exceptional objects, the American Folk Art Museum’s (AFAM) wildfowl decoy collection is one of the first collections of the Museum. It started in 1963 with a few donations from folk art dealers and Museum founders Adele Earnest and Cordelia Hamilton. After a decoy exhibition at the Museum in 1965, the collection grew dramatically in 1969 when Alastair B. Martin donated an additional 140 decoys. The works in the collection range from the 1860s through 1979, representing carvers from regions including New England, the mid-Atlantic, Long Island, and Canada. 

About the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation

Established in 1987, the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation primarily supports the study of New York State history. Robert David Lion Gardiner was, until his death in August 2004, the 16th Lord of the Manor of Gardiner’s Island, NY. The Gardiner family and their descendants have owned Gardiner’s Island since 1639, obtained as part of a royal grant from King Charles I of England. The Foundation is inspired by Robert David Lion Gardiner’s personal passion for New York history. For more information, please visit