NileGuide Expert Says:
Up on gorgeous Museum Hill, the Folk Art delights with some of the best views in town from Milner Plaza. Inside, its eclectic collection of global crafts is the largest in the world. metal objects from Africa, beadwork from South America, and potter from throughout the Americas. The on-site shop is the city's best bet for gifts.
This branch of the Museum of New Mexico may not seem quite as typically Southwestern as other Santa Fe museums, but it's the largest of its kind in the world. With a collection of some 130,000 objects from more than 100 countries, it's my favorite city museum, well worth an hour or two of perusing. It was founded in 1953 by the Chicago collector Florence Dibell Bartlett, who said, "If peoples of different countries could have the opportunity to study each other's cultures, it would be one avenue for a closer understanding between men." That's the basis on which the museum operates today.
The special collections include Spanish colonial silver, traditional and contemporary New Mexican religious art, Mexican tribal costumes and majolica ceramics, Brazilian folk art, European glass, African sculptures, and East Indian textiles. Particularly delightful are numerous dioramas of people around the world at work and play in typical town, village, and home settings.
Children love to look at the hundreds of toys on display throughout the museum, many of which are from a collection donated in 1982 by Alexander Girard, a notable architect and interior designer, and his wife, Susan. The couple spent their lives traveling the world collecting dolls, animals, fabrics, masks, and dioramas. They had a home in Santa Fe, where they spent many years before they died. Their donation included more than 100,000 pieces, 10,000 of which are exhibited at the museum.
The Hispanic Heritage Wing houses a fine collection of Spanish colonial and contemporary Hispanic folk art. Folk-art demonstrations, performances, and workshops are often presented here. The 80,000-sq.-ft. museum also has a lecture room, a research library, and two gift shops, where a variety of folk art is available for purchase.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Very Highly Recommended 2010