The Flea, the Truck, and the Dreaded Moth

The auditorium is filled to overflowing, as volunteers prep for the Anuual Folk Art Flea (photos by Caroline Dechert)
The auditorium is filled to overflowing, as volunteers prep for the Anuual Folk Art Flea (photos by Caroline Dechert)

From Caroline Dechert, Librarian & Archivist

What does a large freezer truck have to do with the 7th Annual Folk Art Flea (May 7, 2016, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM)? What's coming, folk art ice cream? Read on to learn the lengths the intrepid volunteers of the Friends of Folk Art go to in order to raise money, and preserve the museum's collections.

Every year about this time I am overcome by two emotions: awe at the herculean efforts of the volunteers preparing the annual Folk Art Flea, and an urgent desire to shop.

The Flea is an important fundraiser for the museum, as well as an awesome opportunity to buy gently-used folk art at a great price. I'm not the only member of the staff to look forward to shopping at the Flea each year. Last year I came home with gifts for both my sisters and a large Huichol yarn painting that jumped into my arms at the last minute.

Imagine the work these volunteers do: getting the news out; accepting enough artwork from generous donors to fill both the auditorium and atrium; sorting; pricing; arranging - and one thing you may not have thought of.

Last week, had you looked out by our loading dock, you would have seen an enormous rented freezer truck.

No, there is not really folk art ice cream (but if there were, I would buy some).

Why a freezer truck?

The auditorium is full to bursting with dnated items to be sold at the Flea

Donations for the Flea come in from all over. They come inside the Museum. Into the auditorium and into the atrium. Into close proximity with precious museum artworks. Imagine what one pregnant moth could do, let loose in our atrium to flutter downstairs, or two little carpet beetles, all unseen, in a gallery.

When we  bring in new artworks, or when our own artworks move from an exhibition back into storage, it's not a straightforward trip. Each item is carefully examined to determine its condition. Then, before it heads back for a nice rest in collections storage, it first takes a short vacation in either our freezer or anoxia tent, whichever is most appropriate based upon the material involved. This ensures any unwelcome hitchhikers are disposed of before they reach our vaults. Our excellent Collections Department staff work constantly to ensure pests are prevented from getting in.

But what about all those beautiful things coming in for the Flea? There would be no way to get them all processed through our usual freezer or tent; it's just too much passing through at one time. Enter the giant rented freezer truck. Flea volunteers carefully moved items for the sale into the truck, left them long enough for safety, and brought them all back out again. It is a true labor of love, and we love them for doing it.A few items you can buy at the Flea


But I still think folk art ice cream is a good idea. Maybe for the International Folk Art market, in the heat of summer...


Please come shop at the Flea, May 7th. I've had a quick sneak peek in the auditorium, and there are some real treasures!