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This section provides a snapshot of the museum’s collection, which was launched in 1962 with the gift of the iconic Flag Gate. Since then, the holdings have grown to encompass a singular array of about 8,000 works of art from the United Stated and abroad, spanning traditional American folk art made at the turn of the eighteenth century to twentieth and twenty-first century works by self-taught artists and art brut creators. The collection includes over 1,200 paintings on canvas and panel (portraits, landscapes, and genre scenes); 1,500 drawings and works on paper; 1,000 three-dimensional works (weathervanes, whirligigs, figureheads, carousel animals, decoys, shop figures and trade signs, wood and stone carvings, toys and game boards, and mixed-media constructions, among them significant pieces by African American artists); 1,000 textiles (quilts, needlework, coverlets, samplers, and hooked rugs); 200 ceramic objects; 100 pieces of paint-decorated furniture; 300 colorful household items from the Historical Society of Early American Decoration; and large-scale architectural models. The museum is the largest repository of works by Henry Darger, including scroll-length double-sided paintings, collages, drawings, manuscripts, and source material. The museum also holds a large and valuable archive of diverse materials including artist and subject files, films, recordings, photographs, original research, historical records, and other assorted and valuable ephemera, providing a unique understanding of four centuries of creativity in this highly specialized field.

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