Board Decides to Keep American Folk Art Museum Going, Names New President

When we last left news of the American Folk Art Museum, things weren’t looking good in the slightest. Despite having sold their large, still relatively new Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects-designed building to the adjacent MoMA and moving into a much smaller space in New York’s Lincoln Square neighborhood, thereby supposedly saving them from the millions in debt they’d been held down by for years, things were still apparently rough going. At that time, with the NY Times reporting that their “financial picture [had] grown so bleak,” it was widely assumed (even by members of the museum it seemed) that their days were numbered and its large collection would soon be broken up and sent to a variety of other institutions. However, that seems to have all been avoided, with an announcement made by the museum yesterday, saying that their board has voted unanimously to keep it open. As part of that vote came a number of changes. First, the museum will develop a new financial strategy “that ensures the Museum’s fiscal viability.” Second, the board elected one of its own, Monty Blanchard, who has served there since 2003 and donated 75 pieces in 1998, as the museum’s new president. Finally, in re-purposing one of their worst case plans, they’ve decided that they’ll share pieces from their collection with other museums, but without that having to close up shop entirely business. Here are some details about that plan:

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.