Museum of International Folk Art


The museum is one of four units of the Museum of New Mexico. It is the world’s first international folk art museum, and was founded by Florence Dibble Bartlett (1882–1954), amember of a prominent philanthropic Chicago family that made numerous contributions to the art world. Following her graduation from Smith College in 1904, Bartletttraveled the world for thirty years amassing a collection, particularly strong in material from Scandinavia and Central Europe, of more than 4,500 objects, includingtextiles, embroideries, metalwork, ceramics, and carvings, from fifty-five countries and regions of the world. This core collection of the Museum of International Folk Art was installed, in 1953, in a building set at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and designed by architect John Gaw Meem (1894–1983), creator of the “Santa Fe style.”In 1978 the gift and exhibition of the Alexander and Susan Girard Collection, “Multiple Visions: A Common Bond,” was permanently installed in a wing of themuseum. The 106,000 works in this collection, from one hundred countries, include religious folk art, toys, puppets, textiles, costumes, masks, paintings, and beadwork. This collection additionally provides an in-depth understanding of many folk art traditions from around the world.The Neutrogena Collection, installed in another wing of the museum in 1998, contains 2,500 objects, including textiles, ceramics, and carvings. Important examplesinclude Egyptian Coptic textiles, Hispanic folk art carvings, ceramics of the Rio Grande pueblos, Japanese folk clothing, Pennsylvania Amish quilts, and Navajoweavings.The museum’s broader collection contains more than 125,000 objects from one hundred countries, and includes works from the Spanish colonial period of theseventeenth to the nineteenth centuries; contemporary southwestern Hispanic art from the twentieth century; and international textiles, costumes, and folk art objectsfrom the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The institution, moreover, is an invaluable resource for cultural understanding and artistic interpretation.

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