(New York, January 25, 2021 (updated June 23, 2021))—The American Folk Art Museum announced the central components of its 60th-anniversary celebration in 2021, including a gifts of art campaign, captivating exhibitions that will explore folk and self-taught art, the digitization of Henry Darger’s Realms of the Unreal, and dynamic programs that will engage the Museum’s audience.
“From exhibitions to free programs to special events, online and onsite, we’re excited to share ways that enthusiasts across the globe can discover and explore the dynamic, candid, and often unexpected expressions of folk and self-taught artists,” said Jason T. Busch, Director and CEO of the Museum. “At 60, we are honored to carry the profound vision of our forebears as we celebrate the Museum and imagine its future.”
The Museum was founded on June 23, 1961 – a progressive, exciting time for the arts in New York City. Fueled by a spirit of energy, optimism, and a sense of possibilities, the Museum has sought to foster, promote, and increase the knowledge and appreciation of folk and self-taught art through its exhibitions, publications, and educational programs.
“We are especially grateful to the founders, staff, trustees, members, artists, and supporters of the American Folk Art Museum. For 60 years, this community has brilliantly and tirelessly ensured that the Museum is now a free source of joy, inspiration, and learning for all,” said Elizabeth V. Warren, President of the Museum.
In the last six decades, the Museum has welcomed millions of guests, engaged tens of thousands of students in its programs, organized hundreds of exhibitions, and increased the scholarship of an underrepresented segment of human creative history. Through its anniversary program, the Museum will seek to engage the public at its locations in Manhattan and Queens and those who participate remotely in its virtual programs and digital offerings. Highlights include:
The Museum will present major exhibitions that showcase opportunities for the public to explore the richness of folk and self-taught art.
- American Weathervanes: The Art of the Winds (June 23 – January 2, 2022)
- The exhibition reveals the beauty, historical significance, and technical virtuosity of American vanes fashioned between the eighteenth and early twentieth centuries. An illustrated companion book will be published in March 2021 by Rizzoli Electra.
- Multitudes (January 17, 2022 – September 5, 2022)
- Looking across four centuries of folk and self-taught art, works in the exhibition will be dynamically juxtaposed to explore the idea of “multitudes” from two perspectives: first, the sense of multiplicity encapsulated by the production of the artists themselves; and second, the idea of “containing multitudes” as a metaphor for the museum’s collection as a whole.
Gifts of Art Campaign
Building upon the momentum from the 2020 announcement of the Audrey B. Heckler collection, the Museum will add works to its collection as it seeks to present an inclusive, nuanced, and meaningful story of folk and self-taught art across time and place. Ranging from notable individual objects to extensive collections, some of these contributions, bequests, and promised gifts will be displayed in the exhibition Multitudes. Others will go on view in future exhibitions and will be available online.
Events and Programs
Throughout 2021 and 2022, the Museum will host multiple events to commemorate its 60th anniversary, including a celebration in June and a gala in the fall. In conjunction with its anniversary, the Museum will organize a series of inclusive, responsive, and participatory public programs designed to explore connections between its collections, its exhibitions, and the world. Programs will share celebratory and critical perspectives of artists, scholars, museum professionals, and other community partners on the American Folk Art Museum’s past, present, and future.
The Museum Online
Through a variety of online campaigns and portals, the Museum will highlight key artists from its collection, great works from its unparalleled holdings, and opportunities to connect. With generous funding from the National Park Service, in 2021, the Museum will undertake a project to digitize all 14 volumes of Henry Darger’s Realms of the Unreal and make them available for the public to explore and discover.
The Oral History Project and Museum Archives
Launching in January 2022, an ambitious Oral History Project will blaze a trail to actively gather and preserve unique memories and perspectives in the field of folk and self-taught art, which are undocumented and at risk of disappearing. This robust and inclusive record will feature a diverse group of artists, collectors, and scholars, as well as the close community of the Museum.
The Museum Archives hold institutional records and distinctive collections related to the founding and development of the field, its artists, and its networks. Over six decades, this exceptional archive has been enriched by the contributions of artists, collectors, curators, and scholars. Starting in spring 2021, the Museum will share materials from its archival holdings via social media, email, and its website.
To ensure support of the Museum’s future activities for generations of guests, scholars, and students, the Museum has launched an anniversary endowment campaign. Financial support includes leadership gifts from Karin and Jonathan Fielding, Laura and Richard Parsons, Lucy and Mike Danziger, and Elizabeth and Irwin Warren. As part of the campaign, there will be naming opportunities at the Museum, including key staff positions, galleries, spaces, public programs, and traditional folk art and self-taught art symposia.
A Grand Tour of the Collection
Three self-originated exhibitions featuring works from the Museum’s collection will travel to multiple venues around the United States between 2021 – 2026—American Perspectives: Stories from the American Folk Art Collection; Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts; and Wall Power! Spectacular Quilts from the American Folk Art Museum. These compelling exhibitions will connect the Museum’s collection to new audiences in every part of the country, significantly expanding the nationwide appreciation of folk and self-taught art.
About the American Folk Art Museum
The American Folk Art Museum engages people of all backgrounds through its collections, exhibitions, publications, and programs as the leading forum for shaping the understanding and appreciation of folk and self-taught art across time and place.
Media Contact: Chris Gorman, firstname.lastname@example.org