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.


Travel Memoir – Published



Has Anyone Seen My Elephant? and other tales from a traveler’s diary
By Gerald and Patricia Heggen

A travel memoir book filled with amusing stories, adventures, laughs, and more! Available on Amazon – click here to purchase!


My grandparents traveled the world together for over 40 years. On a very tight budget, they went on one to two trips a year starting in 1971. From Europe, to Asia to South America, they saw everything they could, meet interesting people along the way, and recorded their stories in this book.

Growing up, I have fond memories of gathering in my grandparents living room every other summer to watch the latest slide show of pictures from their recent travels. I sat on the floor and stared in wonder at the photos, listening to my grandparent’s tales and explanations of each photo. My grandparents influenced me more than ever to travel, and I have! Read the book to inspire your travels!


An excerpt from the book:

Chapter: 1994 – India – Story within the chapter:


Land of the Monkey

Former maharajah palace accommodations are now history. The Methodist Mission House here in Bombay is home for tonight. Lodging is spartan as the name of the place suggests. But we have a fellow guest who adds a bit of class. Alan Alda is a guest here. He is working on a film. Bombay is truly the film capital of the world-not our Hollywood. Although the city is not lacking in five star hotels, Alan Alda chose the Mission House. Tomorrow we catch the 7:00 AM train to our mission duty at Miraj.

Our reserved seats are in the air conditioned first class car but we find that car has a “Bad Order” label on the side. This meant the car is being removed from the train. We will be riding in the company of India’s common folk-a good introduction into our life style for the next few months.

This train serves every town and village. So we will be 12 hours en route. Every station stop attracts hundreds of people. Platforms are so dense with humanity, one questions how that many can board the train. Among the crowd are food vendors hawking eats, which have tempting aromas. We have been told this food is prepared in homes under poor hygienic conditions and we must resist eating them. Fruit is plentiful so that will be our fare for the day.

We are pulling into a station and are surprised to find the platform deserted – no passengers, no vendors, no railway employees with the exception of one coming through the cars calling out “monkeys-monkeys.” Suddenly hundreds of migrating monkeys are everywhere. Train cars, which are not air-conditioned, have steel bars over the windows. Now we know why. Since the animals have long arms, we are ordered to not sit close to the window and hang on to any items within their reach. Many have offspring clinging to them. This variety does not appear to be an endangered species.

The frenzy ended as quickly as it began. The throng taking refuge in the station is pouring onto the platform. Normal station activity is taking place. The stationmaster waves the green flag. The train moves on!


To read the entire book, purchase on Amazon by clicking here.

Cake in Innsbruck


“You can either have good cake and bad coffee, or bad cake and good coffee. It is not possible to have both.”


When in Austria, one must have pastries and cakes; in fact having a slice of sachertorte is basically a requirement. While in Innsbruck, I asked a local at one of the museums where they would suggest having cake, to which I received this response:

“You can either have good cake and bad coffee, or bad cake and good coffee. It is not possible to have both.”

This was followed by complicated instructions. I am not entirely sure I found the recommended pastry shop, however the cake was indeed delicious and I refrained from ordering coffee. So when in doubt, ask a local where to get your Austrian coffee and pastry.


For more travel photography of Innsbruck, Austria click here for Monica Goslin Photography – photos available as framed photos, canvas prints, and more.


For more travel tips and info on Innsbruck see previous travel blog posts.


Mountains in Innsbruck – Seegrube


Mountains in Innsbruck

I highly recommend taking an afternoon to climb a mountain while in Innsbruck. It’s not as strenuous as it sounds, I promise. Use the Hungerburgbahn funicular to get from the city center to Seegrube Station at 6,250 feet! Put your Innsbruck Card to good use here as well!


How to get there:

  • From the city center, follow the Inn River, North and when you see a large public park on the right called Hofgarten, the Congress Station in on your left.
  • The station looks like melted spaceship, designed by Zaha Hadid, you can’t miss it.
  • You’ll go underground and buy tickets at the ticket booth – the maps and brochures explain your options. But you can buy a ticket for just this funicular or you can continue on to the next cable car to reach Seegrube Station. There is even one further cable car past Seegrube Station!
  • Choose your destination and purchase your ticket.
  • The well-mannered station with clearly designated lines, waiting area and boarding zone means you don’t have to know German to figure out where to go
  • The ride is stunning, starting underground and climbing like a rollercoaster, passing over the river on a bridge designed solely for the funicular. Then the car starts to climb the mountain until you arrive at Hungerburg station – another melted spaceship formation.
  • From Hungerburg station, exit and walk around to the right for the next cable car ride if you are going on to Seegrube.
  • This cable car is the traditional car, passing over trails, a few homes (lucky them!) and finally eases into the Seegrube Station at 6,250 feet.


Seegrube Station sits right on the edge of the side of the mountain… that doesn’t make sense, but when you see it, it will. There is a café with picnic tables right on that edge, chairs, and then the beginning of hiking trails in the summer and skiing runs in the winter.


Seegrube Panorama Trail

For an easy walk, take the Seegrube Panorama Trail. In 25 minutes you’ll circle a small hill by the station, getting great views (there are benches along the way as well so you can sit and admire the valley below). Plus you’ll feel quite accomplished while not overly exerting yourself.

There are more vigorous trails, daring rocky paths, and of course hang-gliding and paragliding options. I did see a man prepare his hang-glider and then take a running start, which actually just consisted of about five steps off of the Seegrube edge I mentioned, down a small incline and off he went!

The station and mountain are part of Nordkette, Austria’s largest nature park, Karwendel Nature Park. So enjoy the views, take a leisurely walk, eat at the café, climb a mountain, ride the cable car and more!

For more information on hiking/sking/visiting in Karwendel Nature Park visit the photos alone will make you want to go!


For more travel photography of Innsbruck, Austria click here for Monica Goslin Photography – photos available as framed photos, canvas prints, and more.


Visiting Oropa Sanctuary in Italy


A visit to the Oropa Sanctuary in Italy

The out of the way, off-the-beaten path places are often the most fun to visit!

If you have a car while in Italy and fancy a road trip to an out-of-the-way place, visit the Sanctuary of Oropa. The Sanctuary, which sits at an altitude of 1180m, is 13 kilometers from the city of Biella (more on Biella below). Over eight hundred thousand pilgrims visit the Sanctuary each year! The “Black Madonna of Oropa” is located in one of the small churches in the Sanctuary, it is considered one of the oldest shrines of Mary in the west, and one of the most famous in the Piemonte region of Italy.

When visiting the Sanctuary of Oropa you will drive up a curvy mountain road and arrive at a large entrance with a rather grand staircase leading up into a main courtyard. If you climb up the mountain you will visit the Sacro Monte de Oropa with nineteen chapels (built between 1620 and 1720) illustrating the life of Mary; these chapels are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The courtyard within the Sanctuary dates from 1600 to 1800 with buildings ranging from churches, libraries, and chapels. In the center of the courtyard is a large stone fountain with immense spoons hanging from the center, ready for thirsty pilgrims. At the far end of the courtyard you will see the Upper Basilica, built between 1885-1960, which has an 80 meter high dome!

*To see more photographs of Oropa Sanctuary click here for Monica Goslin Photography


City of Biella, Italy

The city of Biella is an interesting mesh of old and new. There is a small medieval village above the city, which you can reach via a funicular, always a fun way to travel! The funicular was built in 1885, and is supported by 18 pillars of which the tallest is 9 meters, and was originally driven by hydraulic power. The medieval town has cobble stone streets, charming houses, old palaces with courtyards, and arcades passage ways. The medieval plaza dates back to 1160 and is surrounded by pretty buildings. Make sure to see the “house of wooden beams” on the main street as it is one of the last examples of medieval architecture.

Within the city of Biella, below the medieval town, the most important monument to see is the Baptistry. The Baptistry, the most significant monument in the city, was built with Roman remains. Over the door you’ll see a Second Century relief, 13th century frescos inside, and a crypt dating from the 18th century for the Bishops of the city.


Read more about Biella and the Oropa Sanctuary by clicking here