American Folk Art Museum

American Folk Art Museum



“The American Folk Art Museum? Never heard of it.”

That’s a frequent response when I mention the Folk Art Museum.

I am not surprised. While nobody can miss the building, few have ever entered it except to dash into the gift shop to buy an umbrella when it suddenly starts to rain.

The first time I do enter – together with my grandson Luke – I am surprised by the welcoming reception of the door man.

”My name is Ben,” he says. He turns to Luke. “What is yours?”

The museum’s permanent collection is dedicated to the preservation, exhibition and study of self-taught artists, from the 18th century to the present day.

As such, it consists of several paintings, assorted objects, and some drawings, of which is my favorite.


Public Programs run from lectures, workshops, to a field trip to Central Park, led by the New York Mycological Society.

The temporary exhibit of Charting the Divine Plan: The Art of Orra White Hitchcock explores the connection between art, love, science, and religion in the works of Orra White Hitchcock, one of America’s first female scientific illustrators. Together with her husband, Edward, she communicated complex scientific principles in abstract visual terms that now appear remarkably fresh.


I am more interested in the one hour Jazz session which takes place every Wednesday afternoon. In fact, it’s the museum’s musical programs that especially delight me.

American Folk Art Museum 2

We return late Friday afternoon for the two-hour live folk and acoustic music session. Again, the chairs are set up between the two galleries. The hostess introduces the evening’s first singer, Will Scott. Scott looks, sings and acts like a hippie of the 60’s. People just melt and become part of the evening, myself included.

I usually do not mention a museum’s gift shop, but their selection of gifts and cards  is so original, I take out a membership which gives me a 20% discount at the shop.

“Let them eat cake,” reads one of their cards.

Actually, you can’t even get a piece of cake at the Folk Art Museum, which is one of the few New York museums that doesn’t serve food.

A friend, who lives in the neighborhood, suggests the nearby Joe, or Epicerie Boulud. It is so hot and humid, none of these appeal to me. I decide to splurge and get us an inside table at Bar Boulud. Luke’s Croque Monsieur is so gigantic, it could feed an army.  My salade Niçoise looks and tastes as expected. By now I’m almost used to the American version of this popular Southern French salad.

We are out in less than an hour, stepping outside back into the heat, and taking the crosstown bus back to the East Side.

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