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The museum holds the largest collection of international folk art in the world, numbering more than 130,000 objects from more than 100 countries. The core collection of 2,500 objects was donated by museum founder Florence Dibell Bartlett. Since that time, the collection has been shaped in large part by the generous support of individuals, most notably Alexander and Susan Girard, with their gift of 106,000 objects, and Lloyd Cotsen’s Neutrogena Collection, consisting of 2,600 exceptional textiles and objects. Our collection continues to grow according to the belief that through the traditional arts, we may illuminate human creativity and shape a humane world.
Our collecting areas are organized geographically, representing cultures from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America & the Caribbean, North America, and Oceania, with additional concentrations in Spanish Colonial Art, Contemporary Hispano & Latino Art, and Textiles and Dress. A few of the highlights of our collection include:
- African metalwork used for trade, adornment and ritual
- Indonesian shadow puppets (wayang kulit)
- Japanese woodblock prints and folk ceramics
- Asian and Middle Eastern talismans and amulets
- Chinese New Year’s prints (nian hua)
- Flamenco dress and adornment
- Swedish household items, textiles, and Bonad paintings
- Polish figurative wood carving
- Mexican and Spanish mayolica (tin-glazed earthenware)
- Macedonian traditional dress
- Mexican folk pottery and jewelry
- Brazilian wood sculptures
- Cordry collection of Mexican textiles, costumes and masks
- Turkish ceramics
- Textiles from India
- Palestinian dress and jewelry
- Traditional pottery from the American South
- Tramp art from Europe and the U.S.
- U.S. visionary and self-taught art
- New Mexican colonial and contemporary Hispano saints (santos), both 3-dimensional (bultos) and 2-dimensional (retablos), as well as furniture, tinwork, jewelry, horse gear, and more
- Northern New Mexican weavings
- Beadwork from across the globe
- Collection of works by U.S. National Heritage Fellows
Curators and scholars conduct scholarly research on our historic and contemporary collections to document and interpret the traditional arts and cultures of people from around the world.
The museum’s Bartlett Library & Archives documents the history of the museum and provides books, periodicals, audiovisual materials, artist files and other resources to support research and study related to museum’s collection of objects. More information on the Bartlett Library & Archives.