Museum of International Folk Art

Museum of International Folk Art Receives $40,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

February 24, 2021


The Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA) is excited to announce that it has been approved for a $40,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to support the upcoming exhibition “To Keep Them Warm: The Alaska Native Parka.” MOIFA’s project is among 1,073 across the U.S. selected during this first round of the fiscal year funding in the Grants for Arts Projects funding category.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support this project from the Museum of International Folk Art,” said Arts Endowment Acting Chair Ann Eilers. “The Museum of International Folk Art is among the arts organizations across the country that have demonstrated creativity, excellence, and resilience during this very challenging year.”

Scheduled to open Sept. 25, 2022, through May 14, 2023, “To Keep Them Warm” will examine the continuum and living tradition of Alaska Native parka-making. The exhibition will include examples from Yup’ik, Iñupiaq, Unangan, Dena’ina Athabascan, and St. Lawrence Island Yupik cultures, along with Indigenous sewing tools, drawings, and dolls, and historic photos to illustrate contexts in which parkas are worn. These remarkable garments are a living tradition rooted in centuries of Indigenous knowledge of material science and design and are still made and worn today. Parkas demonstrate the resilience of Indigenous communities to thrive in an arctic environment.

As guest co-curator Melissa Shaginoff (Athabascan/Paiute) explained, “The parka is arguably the most important survival tool for any person living in the Arctic. During our project research, parka makers shared many personal stories, which guide the exhibit content and catalog and our planned programming and education in Alaska Native communities. This project will be valuable not only for the beauty and reverence of the parkas themselves, but for our focus on the makers as Alaska Native culture bearers.”

“We are grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for their support of this project,” said MOIFA Executive Director Khristaan Villela. “It allows us to explore continuity and innovation in Alaskan Indigenous communities through the lens of a single essential garment. Our Alaska Native collaborators have generously shared their expertise to inform this project. We hope that ‘To Keep Them Warm’ and its associated programs prompt ongoing cultural dialogue and revitalization.”

“To Keep Them Warm: The Alaska Native Parka” is guest co-curated by Suzi Jones, Ph.D., and Melissa Shaginoff.

For more information on projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit 


About the Museum of International Folk Art
The Museum of International Folk Art is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Board of Regents for the Museum of New Mexico. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the International Folk Art Foundation and Museum of New Mexico Foundation.  The mission of The Museum of International Folk Art is to shape a humane world by connecting people through creative expression and artistic traditions. The museum holds the largest collection of international folk art in the world, numbering more than 130,000 objects from more than 100 countries. 


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