You don’t need to hop on a plane to see the world when you can simply go to the renowned Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe and visit hundreds of countries in one place. Opened in 1953, the museum has gained national and international recognition as home to the world’s largest collection of folk art. Its holdings represent diverse cultures around the globe from Africa and the Middle East to Asia, Latin America and North America.
Founder Florence Dibell Bartlett, a philanthropist and avid folk art collector, was witness to two world wars and believed that encouraging people to interact with folk art and with each other would aid in promoting cultural understanding. Over the years, the museum has amassed an impressive 150,000 plus artifacts, which it has documented, preserved and interpreted for visitors to enjoy and appreciate. The institution’s reputation for unique and engaging exhibits, as well as its variety of hands-on educational programs, has made it a magnet for tourists and locals alike. A perennial favorite is the long term exhibition, “Multiple Visions: a Common Bond,” an eye-popping showcase of folk art, toys, miniatures and textiles from more than 100 nations on six continents, collected by the late Alexander Girard.
During Santa Fe’s Summer of Color, the museum’s selected focus is the color red with its feature exhibit entitled, “The Red That Colored the World.” This dramatic hue and its extensive cultural history has inspired artists’ imaginations for centuries. The show explores the widespread use in art of cochineal, an insect-based dye source for the color red whose use dates back to the pre-Columbian Americas. More than 130 objects including textiles, sculpture, paintings, manuscripts, decorative arts and clothing are highlighted, creating a veritable feast for the senses.
Also on display is “Pottery of the U.S. South: A Living Tradition,” an exhibit of traditional stoneware from North Carolina and northern Georgia. This type of pottery was once greatly in demand in the agrarian South and though society and its lifestyles have changed over time, artisans in the region continue to preserve this distinctively Southern tradition. Immigrant journeys and the challenges faced in adapting to new homelands is the subject of the exhibition “Between Two Worlds: Folk Artists Reflect on The Immigrant Experience.” Folk artists from the Americas, Africa and Asia express their hopes and fears within a series of works including fiber arts, carvings, paintings and creations on paper.
Admission: $6 for New Mexico residents, $9 for non-residents
Guided or self-guided options available