A Year of Education: Engaging the Public

The headline from the Museum of International Folk Art in fiscal year 2021- 2022 (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022) was the enduring popularity of education programs. These were bolstered by $47,318 in private contributions to the museum’s Education Fund via the Museum of New Mexico Foundation.

More than 7,500 people attended an array of public museum events during FY22 while 4,000 participated in off-site events. The museum’s specialty Folk Art to Go kits remained a solid hit with the younger set, with more than 2,300 distributed throughout the fiscal year.

The museum continued its strong partnerships with three public schools: El Camino Real Academy and Mandela International Magnet School in Santa Fe and San Juan Elementary School in the Española school district. Students from each school engaged in museum-led art projects, which were exhibited in the museum atrium with parents, family members and teachers attending.

The museum’s six-year collaboration with Cooking with Kids again served over 5,000 children in seven Rio Arriba County schools and thirteen public schools in Santa Fe County. In FY22, museum educators designed a folk art lesson and art project complementing the food and culture of Cuba, the focus of the students’ cooking lessons.

The museum’s bilingual educator continued her work at Gerard’s House in Santa Fe. Projects included free folk art therapy craft sessions for young parents and a summer camp for youth grieving from life-changing loss and trauma.

Museum educators participated in the 10th annual Teacher’s Night Out Resource Fair, providing some 100 teachers with an overview of the museum’s educational opportunities.

Exhibitions also received significant support in FY22 with $175,876 in private gifts to the museum’s Exhibitions Development Fund via the Foundation. In December of 2021, Dressing with Purpose: Belonging and Resistance in Scandinavia, examining costume’s role in expressing national identity, opened in the Neutrogena Wing. Elisabeth Alley, a longtime museum volunteer and Friends of Folk Art member, planned the opening evening in the museum atrium featuring a festive traditional Scandinavian dinner and holiday decor.

Work on future exhibitions is also benefiting from the funds generated in FY22, including $50,000 in grants and a total of $779,676 in overall division support.

Preparations continued for the January 2023 opening of La Cartonería Mexicana: The Mexican Art of Paper and Paste, featuring many historic and contemporary papier-mâché objects from the museum’s collection. Objects include piñatas, dolls, Day of the Dead skeletons and fantastical animals called alebrije. During the exhibition’s run, Mexican artists will demonstrate the cartonería craft and a giant alebrije will be on view at Santa Fe’s Southside Library.

The exhibition To Keep Them Warm: The Alaska Native Parka makes its museum debut in May 2023. The show explores how Indigenous peoples in a much colder clime protect themselves from the elements wearing parkas whose mate- rials, beauty and craftsmanship belie their utilitarian function. Viewers will be treated to drawings, dolls and parka-making tools, as well as historic photographs illustrating the contexts in which parkas are worn. Examples of new directions in parka-making and sewing complete the picture of the Alaska Native parka in contemporary society.

Notable Newsmakers
The museum moved forward with a series of transitions in FY22. A new sign was hoisted above the Museum of International Folk Art Shop in the name of Lynn Godfrey Brown, a former Foundation trustee and one of the folk art world’s biggest champions. The recognition was merited by Brown’s $100,000 gift to the Foundation’s newly established Alexander Girard Legacy Fund.

On June 14, 2022, the Friends of Folk Art, flush with three years of donated folk art, moved their largest-ever fund- raising event to the Santa Fe County Fairgrounds. There, the 11th Annual Folk Art Flea raised a record-breaking $150,684 to support museum exhibitions and education programs. To date, the Folk Art Flea has raised more than $600,000 for the museum.

Finally, new leadership took the helm at the museum as former executive director Khristaan Villela departed for the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. In May, Kate Macuen, the museum’s director of collections stepped in as interim executive director. Also, Laura J. Mueller, former curator of art at the Portland Japanese Garden, replaced Aurelia Gomez as deputy director.

To support the Museum of International Folk Art, contact Laura Sullivan at 505.216.0829 or Laura@museumfoundation.org.


This article and image are from the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s Member News Winter 2022. Photo by Carrie Hertz, 2015.