No. 95 . 24 April 2002 
ArchitectureWeek
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Folk Art Museum

by Michael J. Crosbie

Good things, as the saying goes, come in small packages. In the case of the new American Folk Art Museum in midtown Manhattan, the small package casts a golden glow across West 53rd Street when the sun glances off its variegated whitish-bronze facade.

Hailed as the first entirely new art museum building in New York in nearly 40 years, the creation of Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates just west of the Museum of Modern Art more than holds its own next to that bastion of high design. The new museum will fit like a jewel into the expanded MoMA building, now being constructed to either side of it.

Unlike the urbane art on display next door at MoMa, folk art is the creation of untrained, even anonymous, artists and artisans whose work was scarcely recognized as artistic until a few decades ago. The new museum's collection represents a broad range of furniture, metalwork, ceramics, textiles, jewelry, sculpture, prints, and paintings.

Much like a piece of fine folk art, the new museum is inviting yet a bit mysterious, engagingly transparent yet full of surprises and aesthetic rewards. It is also a small package eight floors and 30,000 square feet (2800 square meters) that packs a wallop as soon as you go through the front door.   >>>

 

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