A grant from the American Art Program will support efforts at the Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University to catalog and digitize its collection of Folk Art. The project aims to make the collection—which includes quilts, textiles, crafts, and other works from a broad range of Kentucky artistic and craft traditions—more accessible for scholarship, exhibitions, and educational programming.
The Kentucky Museum will continue to catalog and digitize their Folk Art collection with support from a $155,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. The grant will provide funding for a Curator of Folk Art, a Folk Studies graduate assistantship, and consultation with quilt scholar and folklorist Laurel McKay Horton, who will collaboratively catalog and digitize the Folk Art collection into the Museum’s PastPerfect and KenCat databases.
“The Kentucky Museum is grateful for this Luce Foundation award to further assist with our Folk Art collection conservation work,” shared Brent Bjorkman, Director of the Kentucky Museum. “With funding for a Curator for three years and support for a WKU Folk Studies graduate student to learn at the Curator’s side, we are excited to provide greater access to this vibrant collection online and to allow for its expanded use as a hands-on teaching tool for all WKU students and faculty partners.”
The Kentucky Museum’s Folk Art collection includes approximately 750 works from the 1780s to the present, representing a broad range of Kentucky artistic and craft traditions. The collection includes more than 300 quilt and quilt-related textiles associated with Kentuckians, comprising one of the largest institutional quilt collections in the Commonwealth. Additionally, the Folk Art collection includes tobacco crafts, masks from the Global South and works by notable Kentucky Folk artists Helen LaFrance Orr (b. 1919), Unto Jarvi (1908-1991), Chester Cornett (1913-1981), Willie Massey (1910-1990) and Marvin Finn (1913-2007).