A Love for Folk Art, A Transformational Gift

Earlier this year, when the Santa Fe Community Foundation received a legacy gift worth more than $8.5 million from the estate of the late Deborah and Martin Fishbein—the largest donation in the Foundation’s 42-year history—$1.5 million was designated to create a fund to support exhibitions at the Museum of International Folk Art.

For both organizations, the gift is transformational. It all started in the summer of 1982 when the Fishbeins made a significant trip to Santa Fe that marked the beginning of a long and intimate connection to the City Different. They became members of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation in 1987 and contributed to the Museum of International Folk Art over many years.

“They fell in love with Santa Fe right away,” remembers Deborah’s brother, Gary Kaplan. “They were inspired by the landscape, diversity of culture and incredible art scene. They especially loved the Alexander Girard collection. They were always on the lookout for folk art that Girard would be interested in.”

The couple bought a home in the historic Eastside that same year. For decades, they spent every summer and winter in Santa Fe following Martin’s academic schedule as a professor at the University of Illinois. They visited galleries and built lasting relationships.

Today, thanks to their thoughtful gift, the couple’s appreciation for Santa Fe, and their passion for international travel and collecting folk art, will live on through future museum exhibitions.


To learn more about the Legacy Society, contact Laura Sullivan at
505.216.0829 or Laura@museumfoundation.org.

Top: Martin and Deborah Fishbein. Photo courtesy of Gary Kaplan.