Recently, I was on a one-man trip to Museum Hill in Santa Fe. Here I could choose to visit the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art or the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture or the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian or the Museum of International Folk Art.
I chose the latter because it was the first museum that I contacted that would allow photographs. (Maybe not the most informed basis for such a decision, but it turned out to be a very interesting--but all too short--visit.)
"Florence Dibell Bartlett founded the world's first international folk art Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As a witness to two world wars, Florence Bartlett believed that encouraging people to interact with folk art and with one another would help promote cultural understanding" (internationalfolkart.org).
I arrived at the designated starting point for a tour of the exhibits. One other person was there--the docent. So after learning each other's roles, we began the tour with a display of amulets. The masks below were created to ward off the "evil eye" from another person.
We then moved on to the Girard Wing and its popular long term exhibition, Multiple Visions: A Common Bond.
The exhibit "showcases folk art, toys, miniatures and textiles from more than 100 nations. The late Alexander Girard, who contributed his immense collection to the museum, designed this delightful exhibition, which opened in 1982.
"The unorthodox exhibition contains no label text, instead, the case numbers relate to the printed gallery guide, giving visitors a choice to learn more about the display, or enjoy the display without explanation" (internationalfolkart.org).
In the course of his world travels, Girard purchased over 100,000 items and only about 10 percent of that total are on display at any one time in the museum. He donated the items with the stipulation that the arrangement that he established could not be changed.
This is a portion of his collection of banks that were given to customers who opened accounts in different countries.
"Like museum founder Florence Dibell Bartlett, Alexander Girard hoped visitors would see connections, the common bond, among the peoples of the world.
"For indeed, as an old Italian proverb oft-repeated by Sandro Girard tells us, Tutto il mondo è paese--'The whole world is hometown'" (internationalfolkart.org).