Folk Arts Program


Maria Zia applying henna at an Eid celebration held at the Masjid An-Noor mosque in Amherst, NY. Eid is a Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Photograph by Thomas Richardson, 2012


Folk arts are creative practices rooted in tradition and a sense of group identity. Because folk arts are created by and for a particular group of people, they reflect the unique history, values, interests, and aesthetics of that group. 

The Folk Arts program of the Castellani Art Museum collaborates with local communities in preserving and presenting their traditional arts. In partnership with Western New York artists and community consultants, the Folk Arts program produces exhibitions, publications, artist demonstrations and performances that bring folk arts to a wider audience. Ongoing ethnographic research also forms the basis of a permanent archive of regional folk arts documentation.

As the only full-time Folk Arts program on the Niagara Frontier, our work:

  • Recognizes the artistic contributions of the region's many diverse peoples
  • Promotes a better appreciation and understanding of cultural differences
  • Calls attention to the cultural resources that give our region its unique character
  • Helps preserve our region's cultural heritage for future generations

Our research and documentation are ongoing. If you’d like to share information about folk traditions in your family or community, please contact Edward Y. Millar, Curator of Folk Arts, 716-286-8290, .

The museum’s Folk Arts program is made possible through the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Special exhibitions and projects are funded, in part, through support from the National Endowment for the Arts