TheAmerican Folk Art Museumis an art museum in theUpper West SideofManhattan, at 2,Lincoln Square, Columbus Avenue at 66th Street. It is the premier institution devoted to the aesthetic appreciation offolk artand creative expressions of contemporaryself-taught artistsfrom the United States and abroad.
Its collection holds over 8,000 objects from the 18th century to the present. These works span both traditional folk art and the work of contemporary self-taught artists and Art Brut. In its ongoing exhibitions, educational programming, and outreach, the museum showcases the creative expressions of individuals whose talents developed without formal artistic training.
Standing as "one of New York City’s great treasures",the museum's 7,000 plus collection has been formed almost entirely through gifts. Spanning a wide variety of mediums, the collection includes over 1,200 paintings on canvas or panel, 1,500 drawings and works on paper, 1,000 sculptural objects, 1,000 textile items, 200 ceramic objects, 100 pieces of furniture, 300 decorated household items from the Historical Society of Early American Decoration, and two large-scale architectural models.
The museum has a large collection of archives, artist files, films, recordings, photographs, original research, historical records, and other assorted and valuable ephemera. Most notably, the museum holds the largest collection of archival materials from self-taught artistHenry Darger.
The collection ranges from early portraits bySheldon Peck,Ammi Phillips,Asa Ames, andSamuel Addison Shute and Ruth Whittier Shute, quilts and schoolgirl needlework, furniture, and weathervanes to works by acclaimed masters such asThornton Dial, Morris Hirshfield,Martín Ramírez,Judith Scott, Mary T. Smith andBill Traylor.
The museum continues to add to its growing collection. In recent years acquisitions have included a version ofEdward Hicks's (1780–1849) famedThe Peaceable Kingdom. Notably, this painting, which Hicks gave to his daughter, remained with Hicks's descendants for many years. The portraits Increase Child Bosworth and Abigail Munro Bosworth by Sheldon Peck (1797–1868), Pickman's Mephitic Models by Paul Laffoley (1935–2016), Plantation Life by Clemmentine Hunter (1886/87–1988), and Heavenly Children by William Matthew Prior (1806–1873).