On July 9, the American Folk Art Museum officially left its location on West 53rd Street and concentrated all its operations at its Lincoln Square property, on Columbus Avenue between 65th and 66th streets. The museum already owned the space, which it has used for exhibitions and programs, as well as hosting its gift shop. The decision was made in order to relieve the museum from the bond debt it owed on the 53rd Street property, according to president Laura Parsons. The property has now been taken over by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which had first right of refusal on it. “The constant burden of servicing and paying down this debt imperils the institution and distracts the museum’s board and staff from our pursuit of programmatic excellence,” Parsons explains.
However, despite the shift in location, there has not been a shift in attendance for the folk art museum in its first week at Lincoln Square. “I didn’t know what to expect going into it,” says museum public relations director Susan Flamm, but so far, “The public is very happy to visit in Lincoln Square.” In fact, she notes that the new location has given the museum “more visibility than we’ve ever had.”
Currently, the museum has two major exhibitions. “Super Stars,” which features quilts that utilize a star motif, runs through Sept. 25, and the 9/11 National Tribute Quilt remains on continuous view. As for the museum’s previous location, MoMA is still unsure what it will do with the property, according to associate director Margaret Doyle. “We have not announced any plans yet for the building,” she says, adding that there currently isn't a timeline in place to make any decisions.