NEW YORK (AP) — Anne-Imelda Radice, who served as director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, has been named the new director of the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.
The museum's board of trustees made the announcement Wednesday. It had been operating without a permanent director since July 2011.
Radice, who takes the helm immediately, has more than 35 years' experience at public and private museums and cultural organizations, including as the first director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.
She said in an interview that one of her first priorities would be raise the museum's visibility.
"Many people have a general concept of what folk art might be but I think there's a real opportunity to tell the story even more so," Radice said.
The museum was founded in 1961. It houses traditional folk art dating to the 18th century, including 5,000 quilts, weather vanes, textiles, sculptures, paintings and decorative arts in a 6,000-square-foot space in Lincoln Square, across from Lincoln Center. It also has a large collection of works by self-taught artists.
Radice, 64, praised the museum staff, administration and board for making the museum solvent after decades of financial problems.
"In saving the collection and the educational programs and all the outreach ... that make up the museum, they really did a Herculean job," Radice said. "There is no debt. No debt is a beautiful thing."
The American Folk Art Museum had long been plagued with financial problems. The problems worsened in 2009, when the museum defaulted on a $32 million debt. It had borrowed the money for a new museum on the same block as the Museum of Modern Art.