PART ONE – Visit the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, NM

Museum of International Folk Art Multiple Visions Gallery, detail of exhibit case 13‐6. Photo by Monica Goslin.

PART ONE – Visit the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, NM

I grew up going to Santa Fe, New Mexico every other summer to visit my grandparents, and one thing we always did was going to the Museum of International Folk Art. We took an afternoon to visit the Girard Collection, which is still my favorite. You walk through the collection and see displays of villages of dolls, a band of musicians made up of wooden dolls, an entire marketplace, street scenes, and a river with colorful boats. It is a fantastical exhibit that delights all ages.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with two curators at the museum. Below is my interview with: Laura Addison – Curator of European & American Folk Art Collections.


1.) What brought you to the Museum of International Folk Art? Have you always been interested in folk art?

Prior to coming to the folk art museum, I worked as the contemporary art curator at the NM Museum of Art. One of my abiding interests is to bridge the hi art/lo art divide and I was always interested in the conversation between contemporary art practitioners and craft, vernacular arts, etc. The folk art museum was my way to broaden my understanding of American art history by being inclusive of all manner of material objects. I have come to believe that folk art inserts itself into many facets of artistic practice and this dialogue, and the margins and gray areas of folk art, are what interest me the most.


2.) Does your expertise in American Folk Art include both North and South America? Are you involved in the upcoming exhibit: Crafting Memory?

Our curatorial areas are divided geographically, so I cover North America and Europe. My colleague Amy Groleau does Latin America, and the Crafting Memory exhibition is hers.

(See part two for the interview with Amy Groleau!).


3.)  Do you get to travel for work, finding new items to add to the museum collection?

Yes, we do have the opportunity to travel for research for upcoming projects. We are fortunate to have the support of a foundation established by the museum’s founder, Florence Dibell Bartlett, for travel grants for field work and exhibition and collection research. A lot happens during these research trips, including making acquisitions for the collection. Much of our collecting happens in conjunction with preparations for exhibitions, so exhibition research and acquisitions dovetail nicely during these work trips.

a.  What has been your favorite travel destination for museum collection pieces?

This past January I had the opportunity to make a quick, preliminary trip to the region of Switzerland, a mountainous region known for, among other things, cheese, skiing, and the traditional cut-paper art form known as scherenschnitt (in German) or decoupage (in French). We have a large collection of paper cuts from around the world–for example, papel picado from Mexico or wycinanki from Poland or jianzhi from China. But we have no paper-cuts from Switzerland, and yet it’s such a rich and active tradition there. When I went to Pays-d’Enhaut, I met with a half dozen artists and saw two tremendous collections. I have in mind to do an exhibition on this material in the future, so this was my first foray into planning this project and collecting in this area. I didn’t make any acquisitions this trip, but down the road I will.


b.  How fast is the collection growing and is it mostly dolls, textiles, or a mix?

The collection is growing very quickly, currently at a pace of 500-1,000 objects per year. In the past number of years, we’ve seen that as collectors are downsizing, and their children may not share their love of the objects they’ve spent a lifetime collecting, we are being offered large collections of folk and traditional arts. When these are of particularly high quality, when there is great depth and documentation of their collections, and when it fills a gap in our collection, it’s a great benefit to the overall scope of the collection. Dolls and textiles are just part of the collection. We have a wide array of objects, from masks, paintings, and sculptures to furniture and functional objects in a variety of materials such as ceramic, wood, tin, glass, etc.


4.)  The Girard Collection has over 100,000 items but only about 10% is on display! Are items rotated in the permanent collection?

Ten percent of the Girard Collection is on display in the permanent exhibition Multiple Visions, which was curated, designed and installed by Alexander Girard. The objects in The objects in Multiple Visions don’t get rotated out. Multiple Visions is really a great example of Girard’s design work, one of the few remaining as he envisioned it, so you have to think of it as a discrete environment or installation. Rather, other collections objects get exhibited in our changing exhibitions. The permanent collection is typically the launching pad for the exhibitions we develop here. The collection is so strong, there’s a lot to work with.

a. This may be a silly question but how often are the display dusted? That must be quite the undertaking especially with the clay figurines.

Yes, cleaning the Girard Wing is quite an undertaking. Our preparator does regularly check on the displays and clean as needed, change lights as needed, look for other issues that need attention. We did undertake a massive cleaning most recently in 2010.As we prepare for bringing the traveling Girard retrospective organized by the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, which will be here in 2019, we will be doing another cleaning on that same scale.


b.  Are the displays based on the culture and country the dolls come from? Is there a story within the display? (See my photo above in regards to the answer below!).

Girard sometimes created displays that were country- or culture-specific, such as the Peruvian village or the Pueblo village, but other times he put objects from different cultures together that may share something else in common–for example, beadwork from various cultures are on display side by side in two parts of Multiple Visions. Alexander Girard was definitely telling stories with his displays, simply by the fact of creating scenes as if they were theaters on display. One of my favorites is the Mexican baptism scene that features ceramic figures by the Aguilar family of Ocotlan de Morelos in Oaxaca, Mexico. Girard created a display almost like a stage set, with a foreground, center stage and background, with the family of the baby being baptized standing at the front and a crowd of others receding toward the back. Where you see the narrative unfold most in Girard’s displays are his village scenes, where he placed buildings and landscape elements and grouped figures standing within this miniature environment and interacting with each other. Girard’s displays really lend themselves to the visitor crafting a narrative to describe what they see.


c.  Do items from the collection travel to other museums?

Yes, we often lend objects from our collection to other museums. However what is on view in the Girard Wing is permanently displayed, so the works that travel are not those on display but others from the collection.


5.) Do you have any input into what is in the gift shop based on an exhibit?

We always provide the shop with suggestions of books we’ve found helpful in our preparations for shows, or put them in contact with the living artists we’ve worked with. But ultimately, they make those decisions based on what they know about buying trends.


6.)  Who designs the new exhibitions and how much input do you get in that?

We work with exhibit designers who are either in the museum system or outside contractors whom we hire. (The museum system includes the 4 state museums in Santa Fe: us, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, New Mexico History Museum, and the New Mexico Museum of Art. We share the exhibits department, which includes the exhibition and graphic designers, as well as preparators, fabricators, and conservators.) A curator works very closely with the exhibit designer and graphic designer to arrive at the look, feel, layout, and installation of the exhibition. We operate as a team. Curators provide the content, context, the guiding principles and groupings necessary to tell the story; the designers make the works shine and best tell this story.

a.  Do you work with the design department on exhibition books and brochures?

Yes, for brochures, we work with our graphic designers. For our publications/books, we work with whatever publisher is publishing and distributing the book. Curators are closely involved with the entire book process, including text, images, and design.


8.)  What is an exhibit you would love to organize and curate for the museum?

I am working on a long-term project called Mining Folk: Troubling Taxonomies of Art and Design, which will include the work of a dozen contemporary artists all of whom reference folk art in their work in such a way that they change the conversation and disrupt closed notions of “art,” “folk art,” “craft,” et cetera. By “changing the conversation,” I mean their use of folk art brings new awareness or understanding to the folk art source material as well as its use in a contemporary context. Maybe this is social commentary, or perhaps it is a different way of understanding a political situation.

*Thank you to Laura Addison for taking the time to answer questions and provide more information about the museum! Also thank you to Ruth LaNore, Registrar at the Museum for contacts and photo permissions!


So on your next visit to Santa Fe, make sure to visit the Museum of International Folk Art. There is so much to see, it’s kid friendly, and now you have an insider curatorial understanding!

*For more photos of Santa Fe, New Mexico visit my travel photography website by clicking here. You can purchase prints and canvas prints from the site!


Visit the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, NM

Admissions and Hours: Open 10 to 5 (except Mondays and major holidays)

Tickets are $12 for adults/seniors, $11 for kids, free for kids under 16

  • First Sundays of the month – free for New Mexico residents



Visiting Miramare Castle in Trieste, Italy

Trieste Italy Miramare Castle

Visiting Miramare Castle in Trieste, Italy

When visiting Trieste, I recommend taking an afternoon to see the Miramare Castle (Castello Miramare). The Castello di Miramare was built from 1856 to 1860 for the Austrian Archduke Maximilian. The castle is picturesque, sitting on a rocky peninsula with sea views and extensive gardens.


THE GARDENS – You can see the gardens for free. The garden paths will take you down to the water and out onto a stone pier where you can get a great view of the castle and sea. You can also walk around the entire perimeter wall of the castle, again with stunning sea views. The gardens go further back into the hills and one exit leads you down to a lovely marina.


THE CASTLE – You can visit the interior of the castle, two floors, without a guided tour. The inside is elaborate with richly decorated rooms. There are some historical artifacts and photographs as well.


THE STORYMaximilian and his wife Princess Marie Charlotte moved to Trieste in 1859. The couple lived in the castle while it was still being built, moving in in 1860. In 1864 the couple went to Mexico but Charlotte left in 1866 after civil unrest. Maximilian was actually taken prisoner in Mexico in 1867 and killed. Charlotte returned to Miramare Castle and became ill, perhaps suffering a breakdown. She was taken to Belgium in 1867 and never returned to the Trieste or the castle. The castle was then used by various nobleman and women for weddings and ceremonies. It was inhabited by Duke Amedeo of Savory-Aosta from 1931 to 1937. During World War II, the castle was used by troops from New Zealand, Britain and America. Then the castle underwent restoration and became a public museum in 1955.



– Visiting the Miramare Castle gardens is free.

– Visiting the inside of the castle is 8 Euros for adults, 5 Euros for children (as of summer 2017)



BUS – From downtown Trieste, take the bus from the Railway Station. Bus Number 6 or 36 will take you to Miramare Castle. *Because the castle is on a peninsula, you can take the bus to the stop before the castle or after the castle. Either way you have to walk about 15 or 20 minutes from the bus to the castle.

—If you get off at a stop called Grignano, that is the after the castle and by the marina. From the bus stop, walk along the marina and towards the trees. You will see a path and steps up towards the castle gardens. This is a shady walk through trees and garden paths.

—If you get off the bus at one of the stops along the beach/water front like Viale Miramare, you will have a sunny walk with sea views. From there you walk along the path that is right above the beach and up a slight incline, through the castle gate and on to the main entrance and gardens. It is a sunny walk so wear sunscreen and don’t forget your sunglasses.

When I went to Miramare Castle, I got off along the beach, walked to the castle and saw the inside and the gardens. Then I walked through the gardens, down to the marina and got the bus back into the city. I recommend doing this as you will see the castle from both directions and see some very picturesque views of the beach, sea, and gardens in both directions.


See more photography of Trieste, Italy and Miramare Castle here on my website where you can also by prints!


For the official Miramare Castle website click here.


Visiting Trieste, Italy – part two – the tram

Trieste Italy Tram

When you visit Trieste, Italy I highly recommend you ride the Opicina Tram!

The Opicina Tram has been in operation since 1902 and connects Trieste to Opicina on a 5.2km long route. The tram starts downtown and quickly ascends the hill and then follows a weaving track through trees, over roads, and with spectacular views of the city and sea!

The tram starts downtown and quickly goes up a steep hill where you pass grand houses. The tram goes from 3 meters above sea level to 348 meters (over 1,140 feet) above sea level! I rode the tram the entire length of the route. At the last stop you can see where the tram cars live and some of the historical cars.



-You can buy tickets at the Tabacchi shop at the tram stop, it’s just a few Euros.

-The tram leaves every 20 minutes

-To get to the tram stop downtown: From the end of Canal Grande where the Chiesa di Sant’Antonio Taumaturgo is, walk 5 blocks (away from the old city center). Turn right on Via del Lavatoio and you will come to the tram stop in one block to Piazza Oberdan. There is a bus stop across the way as well.


Don’t miss the tram ride. It is actually a tram car taken mostly by locals who live above the city center. What a wonderful way to commute to work or just for an afternoon downtown!


See more photography of Trieste, Italy here on my website where you can also by prints!


Further reading:

For the official website about the Opicina Tram where you can read about the history, technical information, and see photos and drawings of the tram and route over history, click here.


Visit Trieste, Italy – part one – main sights

Trieste ItalyVisit Trieste, Italy – part one – main sights

If you are looking for a city to visit in Italy that is not over run with tourists, Trieste is it! Located on the top fold of the Italian boot and near the Slovenian border, Trieste is nestled in a curve with views of the Gulf of Trieste and the Adriatic Sea beyond. Low hills surround the city, large cargo ships dot the horizon, sail boats line the coast, and the city sparkles with a curious Austrian-Italian charm.

Trieste is an atypical Italian city as it was part of Austria for over 500 years, from 1382 to 1918 to be exact. The Austrian Quarter, which is in the main historical downtown by the water, makes you feel like you’re in Austria. Plus coffee is a hugely important to Trieste and you will see many coffee houses just like those in Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck. The architecture is reminiscent of Vienna with grand buildings, Baroque facades, Neoclassical structures and some Art Nouveau details. But the Italian-isms come out in the details, a line of laundry, overhearing a burst of rapid Italian conversation and the friendly Italian locals.


What to see in Trieste

1 – The Seafront and Piazza Unita d’Italia

You can’t visit a port city and miss seeing the seafront. Right in the heart of downtown is the Piazza Unita d’Italia. This piazza is also atypical as it has buildings on three sides and the sea on the fourth side. City Hall sits at one end with a grand building to the left that used to be the Austrian Lloyd merchant shipping headquarters. The elegant building across from the Palazzo del Lloyd Triestino is the Palazzo del Governo. Notice the mosaic details and borders at the top of the Palazzo del Governo. If you want to sample the Austrian-like café, pastry, and coffee of Trieste, Italy you can sit at the elegant Caffe degli Specchi right on the Piazza! Make sure to walk through the piazza with City Hall at one end and the sea at the other end!

Walk along the water and make your way out onto the stone pier. Molo Audace pier was built from 1743-1751, and named in honor of the first ship of the Italian Navy to arrive in Trieste. The pier is a gathering place for locals and a wonderful spot to watch the sunset!


2 – Canal Grande with Chiesa di Sant’Antonio Taumaturgo at the far end

This short canal is lined with shops, cafes, and colorful boats. It is a picturesque location.


3 – Castle of San Giusto and Trieste Cathedral

On the hill above the city center is the Castle of San Giusto. The hill top actually has a few things to see, once of which includes great views of the city and a lovely park. There are Roman ruins with a few rows of columns and walls. The Castle has a small museum which is a separate fee than the castle. Although seeing the castle means you can climb on the walls, see the views, and wander through the main courtyard. Next to the castle is the Trieste Cathedral which is an interesting as you can see the span of different centuries outside and within. Note the old stones on the façade, perhaps dating back to the 6th century. Mosaic floors weave into newer floors inside and Gothic rose window decorates the façade. And my favorite, are the 12th-13th century mosaics in the apse.

The Bell Tower

You can also climb the bell tower for more wonderful views of the city and the sea. I highly recommend climbing the bell tower. As you climb, you’ll see be climbing steps that are on the outside of an older tower and you’ll see that the stones that are hundreds of years old. It is quite a unique bell tower climb!


How to reach the Castle?

1-Climb up via the stairs and narrow streets – using the paths behind the Roman Theater ruins (about 7 blocks from Piazza d’Italia).

2-INSIDER TIP – Elevator! Next to the Roman Theater is a parking garage, Park San Giusto, with an elevator that goes to the top of the hill. The parking garage is actually very clean with beautiful murals (pictured above) and is quite the engineering feat – see further reading below if you are interested in learning more.

3-There is also a giant staircase up to the park below the castle and church. If you find the main road, Corso Italia, and when it intersects with Via Della Ginnastica – you will see the stairs that will take you up the hill.


4 – Wonder through the Old Town

I always say the best way to see a place is by walking. Meander through the old town, admire the architecture and see the neighborhoods that locals live in. Duck into a few churches which always tell so much about this history of a place through the architecture and art. The Serbian Orthodox Saint Spryridon Church built in the 19th century and a block away from the Canal Grande, is spectacular inside! And while in Trieste make sure to sample the coffee as it is said that it is the “coffee capital of Italy”!

On my visit I did not have time to visit the museums, but there are some in the city center. There is a natural history museum, a botanical garden, a war museum and galleries.


See more photography of Trieste, Italy here on my website where you can also by prints!


Further reading:


Visit the Castle in Trento, Italy – part two



Visit the Castle in Trento, Italy – part two



From the old city center, you can walk to the Castle, Buonconsiglio Castle which dates back to the 13th century and is now a museum. The Castle is a perfect fairytale castle with towering crenelated walls, courtyards and impressive towers. The castle housed Bishops from the 13th century until the end of the 18th century. Later the castle was used by the Austrians as a military barrack and jail. Trento was actually part of Austria and annexed to Italy in the 1920’s. Since then the castle has been a museum and art gallery.

You can visit almost every room in the castle, so allow for at least an entire afternoon for your visit. You will pass through rooms with ornate ceilings, walk on a bridge that connects two buildings (really!) and see paintings and sculptures. There is also an inner courtyard which is a lovely secluded spot with a fountain and pleasant landscaping. From the courtyard you will wait for your allotted time slot for the tour of the “Eagle Tower” or Torre Aquila.


——— What is Eagle Tower? Why see the Eagle Tower?

It is actually the main reason to visit the castle, even the main reason to visit Trento! In order to visit the Eagle Tower you have to go on a tour (for this portion of the castle only, otherwise meander at your own will). The tour is really just a guide that takes a small group down a long narrow corridor to the tower. The tours have audio guides for many languages. So.. the reason for seeing the tower… The dark tower houses the International Gothic frescoes of the “Cycle of the Months.” These 15th century frescoes are perhaps so well preserved because of the lack of sunlight. You will stand in awe as the audio guide explains each month, pointing out the details of fashion, crops, and more. It is a charming room with scenes like a 15th century snow ball fight! The artist is unknown, but does not go unappreciated.

For more information including detailed information about each section of the castle, click here for the official website.


——— Castle ticket prices and hours:

Tickets: 10 Euros, 8 Euros for senior, 6 Euros for students

Eagle Tower: Additional 2 Euros (guided visits are every 45 minutes

Summer hours 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday)

Fall/Winter/Spring hours: 9:30am to 5pm


How to get to Trento:

-By TRAIN: from Verona it is about an hour train ride. Trains leave about every hour from Verona.

-By TRAIN from Bolzano it is about an hour train ride as well. Trains leave about every hour from Bolzano.

-By CAR: this is an option if you are coming from Lake Garda or any of the surrounding mountains and all I can say is use GPS.


Those are the main highlights of Trento. The castle is the main attraction and does take a good portion of your day to see. If you are in Trento more than one night or two days, there are also a multitude of hiking trails.

To see more photographs of Trento, click here for my travel photos which are also available for sale as prints.

For the official tourist website of Trento click here.


What to see in Trento, Italy – part one


What to see in Trento, Italy – part one

Trento is located in the Tyrol Valley which is located above Verona. The valley is dotted with castles, apple orchards and vineyards. There is a lot to see in this valley, some of which I covered in previous blog posts, see below and click to read more:

Castles and Birds of Prey in Italy – highlighting the Gufyland Bird Sanctuary

See Otzi the Iceman

Castles to See Near Bolzano, Italy

And now this blog post brings us a little south of Bolzano to the lovely small city of Trento. Trento has a small historical center, in some areas you can still see the city wall, with a gorgeous plaza, grand cathedral and a most impressive castle!


Piazza Duomo is an atypical shape, surrounded by colorful buildings including the 16th century Casa Rella which displays faded frescoes on the façade. In the center of the piazza is the Fountain of Neptune, with a dazzling mountain of statues. The Cathedral behind the fountain stretches out to dominate the scene. The Cathedral has a stark interior with interesting views of the older walls, a staircase, and a crypt where you can see the late-Roman Basilica. Beside the Cathedral is the Palazzo Pretorio which looks like a castle with a large bell tower (13th century bell tower). The Palaazo Pretorio dates back to the 12th century and acted as the Bishops’ residence but is now a museum; which is nice to see for Baroque paintings and views of the city from the windows and towers.

From the main piazza I suggest you simply wander through the streets to appreciate the architecture and the historical city center. Make sure to walk down Via Rodolfo Belenzani (right across from the Fountain of Neptune) as it is lined with impressive palaces, many of which are covered in frescoes like the 15th century Alberti Colico Palace. The city center reminds one of Verona, with many a romantic balcony to be seen where one can imagine Juliet standing.


NEXT – the next blog post will be about the Castle of Trento!

To see more photographs of Trento, click here for my travel photos which are also available for sale as prints.

For the official tourist website of Trento click here.


How to get to Trento:

-By TRAIN: from Verona it is about an hour train ride. Trains leave about every hour from Verona.

-By TRAIN from Bolzano it is about an hour train ride as well. Trains leave about every hour from Bolzano.

-By CAR: this is an option if you are coming from Lake Garda or any of the surrounding mountains and all I can say is use GPS.


Ferrara, Italy – what to see – part 4

Ferrara Italy

What to see in Ferrara, Italy (part 4)

Okay so by now you have seen the castle, the cathedral, a few museums and the main shopping street. Now it is time to visit a few more sights. In front of the castle is a road called Corso Ercole l d’Este which is lined with grand buildings, a handful of which you can visit.


1-Museo del Risorgimento e della Resistenza – Museum of the Italian Resistance and Unification

For history/war buffs this is a very interesting museum that is brimming with documents, posters, photos, and artefacts. The museum feels more like someone’s personal library and collection of news clippings, photographs, uniforms, satirical cartoons and more from 1919 to 1945. It is rather a sobering museum, which is why I recommend visiting this museum before the next one.


Hours and Ticket prices:

-Open 9:30 to 1pm and again 3 to 6pm

-Closed Mondays

4 Euros for adults, 2 Euros for seniors/kids/groups (prices as of 2016)


2-Pinacoteca Nazionale | Palazzo dei Diamanti – National Gallery and Diamanti Palace

Next to the Museum of Italian Resistance is the Diamanti Palace which houses the National Gallery. The building is stunning as it is covered in marble diamonds (similar to a building you can see in Segovia, Spain). There are 8500 diamond shaped stones on the building façade which catch the sunlight all day long. The palace was built in 1493 and designed by Biagio Rossetti, the court architecture who was also in charge of enlarging the city of Ferrara. Inside you will find a collection of 18 and 19th century artwork, so large dark paintings of religious scenes.


Hours and Ticket prices:

-Open 9 to 2pm Tuesday to Sunday

-Open 9 to 7pm on Thursday

-Closed Mondays

4 Euros for adults, 2 Euros for seniors/kids/groups (prices as of 2016)


If you have time, a few more things to see and visit:

-Past the Diamanti Palace is a rather pleasant park, Parco Massari.

-Further past the park is the Museum of Religious Art, San Cristoforo alla Certosa which is also part of the cemetery.

Natural History Museum – I did not get to this museum but believe it holds an extensive collection of mammals, reptiles, insects, fossils, minerals, and more! Open 9 to 6pm except Mondays.


Ferrara is full of amazing collections of art and history.

For more photos of Ferrara, Italy that are available as prints, click here for Monica Goslin Photography.