American Folk Art Museum Keeps on Ticking

Despite recent press and trade reports of its imminent closing, the American Folk Art Museum Board has announced future plans for the museum and it is to stay open and maintain its current collection.  Fellow appraiser Marcy Molinaro sent me the following press release from the American Folk Art Museum.

Most museum followers thought the debt coverage was too great to cover, but it appears many trustees have stepped up and pledged funds to keep the two locations of the museum open and functioning.

The American Folk Art Museum states


New York, NY - The Board of Trustees of the American Folk Art Museum today voted unanimously to continue the Museum’ s programs and operations at its Two Lincoln Square home and keep its collection intact under its stewardship as an independent entity. The plan includes the election of Chairman Laura Parsons and President Edward V. (Monty) Blanchard Jr., a new financial strategy that ensures the Museum’s fiscal viability, and a dynamic future while continuing its exhibitions, research, and educational programs at Two Lincoln Square.

“As president of the American Folk Art Museum for the past six years I have been privileged to work with a committed group of trustees and staff who have never lost sight of the purpose of a museum: to be stewards of art for the benefit of the public,” said American Folk Art Museum Chairman Laura Parsons. “I am proud to be associated with this Museum and I can say without hesitation that we are working with the motto ‘When one door closes another one is opened.’ I want to especially thank the Ford Foundation and the Department of Cultural Affairs of New York City for the faith they have shown in us and in the importance of our mission.”

Under the leadership of Chairman Laura Parsons, the board voted unanimously to elect Monty Blanchard as the Museum’s new president. Mr. Blanchard is a passionate collector of contemporary and outsider art, and with his late wife Anne donated 75 works from their collection to the Museum in 1998. He has served on the Museum’s Board since 2003 and has acted as Treasurer and a member of the Executive Committee. Mr. Blanchard is a former investment banker and is currently an investor in distressed hotel properties. He is a graduate of Harvard College and has an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“I am honored and excited to be leading the Board as we enter our second 50 years,” said Mr. Blanchard. “We have such an outstanding collection, both traditional and contemporary, a great home at Lincoln Square and a base of loyal supporters, all of which position us well for an exciting future.”

The Board has received significant pledges from Trustees and other donors, including a major gift from the Ford Foundation, toward its operating budget.

“The American Folk Art Museum is an essential facet of New York City’s cultural heritage,” said Darren Walker, Vice President for Education, Creativity and Free Expression at the Ford Foundation. “Its unparalleled collection of folk art, drawn from diverse and self-taught artists, is a powerful showcase of the American spirit and an important public treasure for the people of our city. We are pleased to support the Museum’s development of a new, highly collaborative strategy to ensure that this irreplaceable art reaches as many people as possible.”

In addition to developing a financial plan, the Trustees are also creating a strategy that will increase the visibility of the Museum’s renowned collections and extend the American Folk Art Museum brand. The Museum will seek to establish a revitalized and expanded program of loans to collaborating New York City institutions, as well as packaging traveling exhibitions around the U.S., as ways of sharing folk art with wider audiences. The Brooklyn Museum, the New-York Historical Society, and the Museum of Arts and Design have expressed interest in working with the American Folk Art Museum to identify potential exhibitions where the museums respective collections inform and excite one another. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will display approximately 15 major works of art from the collection in honor of the opening of the American Wing and The Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art.

“We are delighted to learn this news and look forward to continued collaboration with our distinguished sister institution,” said Thomas Campbell, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“The Brooklyn Museum is fully in support of the exceptional collections of the American Folk Art Museum being as accessible as possible to the people of the City of New York,” said Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold Lehman. “We would be pleased to collaborate with other colleague museums in our city to make this happen.”

“We look forward to working with the Folk Art Museum on possible future exhibitions,” said New-York Historical Society President Louise Mirrer. “Their wonderful collection complements our own holdings and we would welcome the opportunity to help build a larger audience for this exciting work.”

Museum trustees, President Blanchard, and the Museum curator and staff will continue to work together to refine the Museum’s strategy and identify opportunities for special exhibitions and educational programs.

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