On my recent trip to New York City, I decided to stop by the American Folk Art Museum, which as you probably know had to vacate its 53rd building last year and return to its old location opposite Lincoln Center owing to financial difficulties. I must say it looks as good as ever in the space that I associated with the museum in the 1980s, and the exhibition, "Jubilation/Rumination," was a terrific exploration of the stellar permanent collection.
But the most nostalgic moment for me was happening upon an old acquaintance who, for me, represents the face of the folk art museum. His name is Ken, and he has been a guard at the museum for more than a quarter century. For most of that time, he has gone out of his way to greet me by name and chat with me when I happen to come by. And I must say, it was usually only once or twice a year. Ken knew who I was long before I knew his name.
I wish all museums had an ambassador as personable as Ken. People like him are such a valuable asset; they are a vital link between the public and the collection. And remember, he is a guard, not a docent. His enthusiasm for the subject is admirable, and, I'm sure for many, infectious. If there is a "Mr. Folk Art," I have no doubt that it is Ken the guard.