Programs & Services

No Idle Hands: The Myths & Meanings of Tramp Art

On display through Sept. 16, 2018 at the Museum of International Folk Art

Tramp art is the product of industry, a style of woodworking from the late 19th and early 20th centuries that made use of discarded cigar boxes and fruit crates that were notched and layered to make a variety of domestic objects.

No Idle Hands: The Myths & Meanings of Tramp Art presents more than 150 examples of tramp art, concentrating on works the from the United States, with additional examples from France, Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Canada, Mexico and Brazil to demonstrate the far reach this art form has had.

This is the first large-scale museum exhibition dedicated to tramp art since 1975. For many years, “tramp art” was believed to have been made by itinerants and hobos, thus its name. It has been demonstrated that this notion is largely erroneous, however the name “tramp art” has remained the only terminology used for this practice, and the paucity of scholarly studies to dispel the mistaken notions about tramp art have allowed the myths to persist. No Idle Hands examines the assumptions related to class, quality, and the anonymity of the makers of tramp art and considers this practice instead through the lens of home and family while tracing its relationship to industry—whether as individual ethos or big industry. No Idle Hands also includes works by contemporary makers, thus establishing tramp art as an ongoing folk art form rather than a vestige of the past.

Also on exhibit at the Museum of International Folk Art

New Mexico CulturePass

Your ticket to 15 exceptional Museums and Historic Sites. From Indian treasures to space exploration, world-class folk art to awesome dinosaurs—our museums and monuments celebrate the essence of New Mexico every day.
More Info »

Featured DCA Exhibitions

The Naturalist Center

The Naturalist Center is a hands-on educational exhibition where visitors of all ages can learn about the natural world of New Mexico.
more »

Multiple Visions: A Common Bond

A visitor favorite, Multiple Visions: A Common Bond, features some of the more than 100,000 objects gifted to the museum by Alexander Girard.
more »

John P. Stapp Air & Space Park

Named after International Space Hall of Fame Inductee and aeromedical pioneer Dr. John P. Stapp, the Air and Space Park consists of large space-related artifacts documenting mankinds exploration of space.
more »

Into the Future: Culture Power in Native American Art

Sponge Bob Square Pants, Pac Man, and Curious George, all sporting a particularly Native American twist, are just a few images from popular mainstream culture seen in the exhibition, Into the Future: Culture Power in Native American Art.
more »