Log Cabin Quilt, Samuel Steinberger, 1890-1910


The American Folk Art Museum is located at 2 Lincoln Square, Columbus Avenue in New York City. The museum is home to a collection of early American folk art as well as works by international self-taught artists.


"The American Folk Art Museum is the premier institution devoted to the aesthetic appreciation of traditional folk art and creative expressions of contemporary self-taught artists from the United States and abroad. The museum preserves, conserves, and interprets a comprehensive collection of the highest quality, with objects dating from the eighteenth century to the present."[1]


The museum was begun in 1961 in New York and opened officially in 1963. Its first location was at 49 West 53rd Street in Manhattan, and the museum stayed there (and expanded across the street) until 2011. In 2011 the museum was faced with financial difficulty and considered moving their collection to the Smithsonian Institution. However, they were able to move into their present location at 2 Lincoln Square in the fall and now pay $1 in rent for their uptown location.[2]

Museum informaticsEdit

Memberships and collaborationsEdit

Currently, it does not appear that the AFAM is associated with any museum organizations. AFAM is neither accredited by nor a member of the American Association of Museums. According to the AAM site, some of the benefits of accreditation include: “credibility and accountability, a clearer sense of purpose, leverage and support, and sustaining a stronger institution.”[3] Especially for a medium-size institution with a history of some financial strain, increased credibility and visibility could go a long way.


The museum offers a range of educational materials, including tours and public programs, all of which is detailed under the “Learning” section of its website. A number of specialized resources exist specifically for teachers and educators. The museum promotes school visits, collaborates with local schools, offers resources geared towards camps, and also provides free curriculum guides. In addition to the strong in-roads that seem to exist in primary and secondary education, the museum might consider expanding to higher education as well as offering more regular classes (not just tours) for adult groups.

Social mediaEdit

Currently on Facebook, AFAM has over 7,000 “Likes,” or users who subscribe to the museum’s updates. The museum is also present on Twitter with almost 6,000 followers, but does not seem to generate much conversation because very few tweets have been made about it. The museum also maintains pages on YouTube, Flikr, Kickstarter, and Foursquare. The museum has been proactive on Facebook and Twitter with regular posts. Increased linking to other pages and posts that are more dialogue-based than update would help increase the activity on these pages.

Picture 1

The American Folk Art Museum's first webpage, crawled on August 24, 2000, archived at

Website facilitiesEdit

The museum's website is well laid out and an aesthetically pleasing representation of the institution. However, a number of usability and accessibility tools show that AFAM could do more to improve the experience of their online visitors both with and without disabilities. For example, the WebPageTest shows that the full site takes almost 15 seconds to fully load. This might be an immediate put-off for some viewers. Additionally, when the site is viewed on the Lynx browser, one can see that for a visitor with visual impairment who would rely on this type of browser to "read" a site, each Javascript element (87 total) would be read on each page. Adjustments of this type might be considered to provide better service for the museum's community.


A presentation detailing some more specifics of IT use at the museum may be found here. The original presentation was developed by Sarah Harshman at Pratt Institute for a graduate course titled "Museum Informatics."


  1. Mission. American Folk Art Museum.
  2. Taylor, Kate (May 10, 2011). MoMA to But American Folk Art Museum Building. The New York Times.
  3. Benefits of AAM Accreditation. American Association of Museums.

Further readingEdit

  • Folk Art. Magazine published annually (1975–2008) by the American Folk Art Museum.
  • Anderson, Brooke Davis. Darger: The Henry Darger Collection at the American Folk Art Museum. New York: American Folk Art Museum in association with Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2001.
  • Hollander, Stacy C., and Brooke Davis Anderson. American Anthem: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum. New York: American Folk Art Museum in association with Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2001.
  • Warren, Elizabeth V. Quilts: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum. New York: American Folk Art Museum in association with Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2010.

External linksEdit