Functions, Occupations, and Activities>The mission of the Museum of International Folk Art is to foster understanding of the traditional arts to illuminate human creativity and shape a humane world.
The mission of the Museum of International Folk Art is to foster understanding of the traditional arts to illuminate human creativity and shape a humane world.
MOIFA's Guiding Principles inform every aspect of the museum's work. They inspire our commitment to be good stewards of the collection and share these cultural resources with the local community, the people of New Mexico, and a worldwide audience.
One. Folk art has the power to change lives and change the world. We will:
Honor the vision of our founder, Florence Dibell Bartlett, who said, "The art of the craftsman [person] is a bond between the peoples of the world."
Present folk art in a context that can overcome ignorance and promote understanding.
Two. Folk artists create and share their beliefs, visions, and cultural values. We will:
Partner with the diverse artists and cultures whose works we preserve, protect, and represent
Create a platform for folk artists to present their work and their perspectives
Three. People understand themselves and each other better through seeing, creating, and interacting with folk arts. We will:
Offer dynamic exhibitions, programs, and publications that appeal to diverse learning styles and audiences, touch the heart, engage the mind, and inspire action
Create accessible exhibitions that serve the global community, including multiple perspectives that encourage further exploration of wide-ranging subjects
Four. The museum is a dynamic, multi-dimensional, learning environment that can be an integral part of community life. We will:
Build community through sharing what we discover with artists, visitors, children, colleagues, and scholars and learning from them in turn
Collaborate with diverse community groups to develop the museum as a respectful forum for civic discourse where people discuss relevant social issues
Five. The museum's collection is an important connection between past, present, and future folk art and related traditions. We will:
Integrate current and emerging technologies that enhance the visitor experience and create improved local and global access to our exhibitions, collections, and interactive programs
Preserve and develop collections of the world's cultural treasures for present and future generations by honoring past generations and treating objects with the utmost care, including repatriation when appropriate
Six. The museum and staff are accountable for professional ethical behavior in all aspects of our operations. We will:
Act with respect, honesty, and transparency to consistently demonstrate courtesy, professionalism, and excellence
Practice environmental stewardship with methods that preserve and sustain our limited resources
The Museum of International Folk Art was founded in 1949 by Florence Dibell Bartlett (1881-1954), a wealthy Chicagoan who began visiting New Mexico in the 1920s. Her guiding vision was summed up by her statement “The art of the craftsman is a bond between the peoples of the world.” Like many of her generation who lived through two world wars, Bartlett was seeking a way of bridging differences and creating a sense of fellowship among cultures. For Bartlett, traditional folk arts from around the world were a means of demonstrating a common bond.
Following the example of her father, Adolphus Clay Bartlett, who owned a successful hardware company in Chicago, Florence Dibell Bartlett was a generous and principled philanthropist with a strong sense of civic responsibility. Referring to herself as a “civic worker” rather than a “philanthropist,” Bartlett supported numerous causes, including the Eleanor Clubs, which provided housing, education, and employment counseling for working women; the Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago; and the American Scandinavian Society. Living in a time of widespread industrialization, Bartlett championed the handmade. The Museum of International Folk Art was a final and lasting act of generosity before her death in May 1954, 8 months after the opening of the museum.
Bartlett’s gifts to New Mexico and to 60 years of museum visitors were many. She envisioned and funded the original building, sited in the foothills of Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was designed by architect John Gaw Meem, as well as the museum’s extensive Bartlett Library. She donated the museum’s founding collection of more than 2,500 objects including textiles, costumes, ceramics, wood carvings, paintings, and jewelry. And she established a foundation dedicated to supporting the mission of the museum.
Over the years, the museum has grown to include the Hispanic Heritage Wing and Contemporary Hispanic Gallery, the Girard Wing, the Neutrogena Wing, and the Gallery of Conscience. Our vast and unique collections now number more than 130,000 examples of folk and traditional arts from around the world.
As one of the few museums in the United States dedicated to folk art from around the world, the Museum of International Folk Art expands the understanding of folk art and encourages dialogue about traditions, cultural identity, community, and aesthetics. The museum is a dynamic, multidimensional learning environment that is an integral part of community life. Our collection and programming provide important connections between past, present, and future folk art and related traditions.
Geographic namesSanta Fe