As a child growing up in Florence, Italy, Alexander Girard was fascinated by nativities, toys, and miniatures.
Appropriately, when Girard grew up, he became an interior designer and architect so that he could bring to life the kinds of miniatures he had once been fascinated with. He would recreate them, though, in full-scale. Still, Girard never gave up his passion for the small-scale and, on his honeymoon, he filled a car with folk art and toys. Girard particularly loved the toys. “Toys represent a microcosm of man’s world and dreams,” he once said. “They exhibit fantasy, imagination, humor, and love. They are an invaluable record and expression of man’s ingenious unsophisticated imagination.”
Girard would go on to collect some 106,000 objects which he would eventually dedicate to the Museum of International Folk Art. Girard also designed the exhibit “Multiple Visions: A Common Bond” where the collection would be shown.
The exhibit specializes in showcasing dolls and figurines from over 100 nations. The collection, though, is so large that only about 10 percent of it can be put on display at any one time. The full collection includes “toys and dolls, costumes, masks, textiles of all kinds, religious folk art (ex-votos and milagros, nativities, icons) as well as paintings, beadwork, and more,” according to the Museum of International Folk Art’s official website.
Know Before You Go
The Museum of International Folk Art is located on Museum Hill.