Purchase Story

American Folk Art Museum's New Gallery in Long Island City

It’s a hop, skip, and a jump from the American Folk Art Museum in Manhattan to its new Self-Taught Genius Gallery in Long Island City, Queens.

Hopping on the number 1 train across the street from the museum at Columbus Avenue and 65th Street, going three stops to 42nd Street, skipping through the Times Square station, and then jumping on the number 7 train gives lovers of folk art a new destination with a travel time between 30 and 40 minutes. As an incentive, the museum offers a free subway ride home. And the icing on the cake, after taking in the premier examples of folk and Outsider art displayed in the new 1500-square-foot gallery, is a Doughnut Plant outpost around the corner.

Long Island City, across the East River from Manhattan, has experienced tremendous growth over the past ten years, with new residential and commercial buildings sharing space with long-established industrial and storage spaces. There are several museums and art centers in the vicinity of the new gallery, a two-block walk from the 33rd Street subway stop. The gallery, which has major support from the Henry Luce Foundation and Booth Ferris Foundation, is a member of the Long Island City Cultural Alliance (LICCA) and plans to partner with other members to offer programs to the community. LaGuardia Community College is down the block, and the gallery has an internship program in place for students. Neighbors include MoMA PS1; the Museum of the Moving Image; the Noguchi Museum; Socrates Sculpture Park; and the Fisher Landau Center for Art.


The entrance to the new gallery at 32nd Place, Long Island City.


The new Self-Taught Genius Gallery.


The archives room.

Besides the new gallery, the two-story building houses the museum’s library, archives, and staff offices—the first time all are together. “The gallery has a traditional gallery feel,” said Stacy C. Hollander, deputy director for curatorial affairs, chief curator, and director of exhibitions. “It is less formal than the museum and much more approachable,” she said, while giving M.A.D. a tour. Selections from the American Folk Art Museum’s collection of over 8000 works of folk and self-taught art from the 18th to 21st centuries will be on view in changing exhibitions. Plans call for six different exhibitions over the next two years. “There isn’t a rigid schedule,” said Hollander.


Stacy C. Hollander (left), deputy director for curatorial affairs, chief curator, and director of exhibitions, and Anne-Imelda Radice, executive director of the American Folk Art Museum. American Folk Art Museum photo.


Mimi Lester is the American Folk Art Museum’s archivist. Her position is the only endowed one. It was given by board member Peter Rapaport.


Monique Romney works two days a week at the facility, under a two-year grant, digitizing archives for the New York Quilt Project.

The gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and, as it is at the museum, admittance is free.

Sarah Margolis-Pineo, the new assistant curator for the Self-Taught Genius Gallery, began work on October 2. Originally from Portland, Maine, she formerly worked at the Maine Historical Society’s Maine Memory Network and more recently at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. “The purpose of the new gallery is to augment and amplify the permanent collection, and we’ll do outreach on the website and through social media,” she explained.


This is Sarah Margolis-Pineo, the assistant curator of the Self-Taught Genius Gallery. American Folk Art Museum photo.

Currently on view through January 2018 are highlights of the Self-Taught Genius exhibit. The pictures and captions illustrate the exhibition and the new space. Further information is available at (www.folkartmuseum.org).


The American Folk Art Museum chose Subway Riders by Ralph Fasanella (1914-1997), New York City, 1950, as the signature marketing piece for its new Self-Taught Genius Gallery in Long Island City, a short subway ride from the museum’s Lincoln Square home.


This pieced silk faille, taffeta, and satin quilt by Carl Klewicke (1835-1913), which the museum purchased in 2012, is part of the new gallery’s first exhibition. The quilt was made circa 1907 in Corning, New York.


Girl in Red Dress with Cat and Dog by Ammi Phillips (1788-1865), created in the vicinity of Amenia, New York, 1830-35, is one of the highlights in the new gallery.


Originally published in the December 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest

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