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What Is the American Folk Art Museum?

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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2016
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The American Folk Art Museum is a museum dedicated to displaying American folk art. The museum is in New York City, New York, in Lincoln Square. Many different types of art are on display at the American Folk Art Museum, including paintings, sculptures, and even quilts, all created by people with no formal training in art. Visitors to the museum are allowed to look around it alone for free, or can choose to pay for a guided tour conducted by a professional museum guide. The museum was founded by Adele Earnest, Arthur Bullowa, Joseph Martinson, Marian Johnson, Herbert Hemphill, Jr., and Cordelia Hamilton.

Folk art is basically any form of art created by somebody who is not a professional artist. In the way that folk music is music written by the people, folk art is art created by the people. The art displayed at the American Folk Art Museum is all folk art, and aims to present a new view of American cultural history by displaying art created by amateurs throughout history. The people who created these paintings often depicted important events in American history, and the museum therefore provides a new insight into some of America’s historical moments.

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Different exhibitions are shown at different times in the American Folk Art Museum. Each different exhibit showcases a different side of American folk art. For example, the museum will have an exhibit focusing on folk art done by women, or specific exhibitions of one person’s artwork. These exhibitions can feature art from anytime in American history. The museum displays information of current and past exhibits on its website.

Art on display at the American Folk Art Museum isn’t limited to paintings. Any type of artistic creation is worthy of display, including furniture, sculptures, quilts, wooden carvings, and more. This provides a great deal of variety at the museum, and the artists’ lack of formal training facilitates pure artistic expression. Instead of arranging the items according to the type of art, it is done by time periods. Visitors to the museum get to see what the art was like as a whole during a certain period.

Founders of the American Folk Art Museum, Adele Earnest, Arthur Bullowa, Joseph Martinson, Marian Johnson, Herbert Hemphill, Jr., and Cordelia Hamilton, believed in folk art and its part in America’s cultural history. This led the foundation of the museum in 1961, and they spent the next two years acquiring pieces to display in it. The American Folk Art Museum was first opened to the public in 1963.

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