Five folk art collections

  • 12 June 2014

To celebrate the opening of British Folk Art at Tate Britain, we choose the best folk art collections to see in the UK, from quilts to weathervanes.

1. Compton Verney, Warwickshire
50% off entry with National Art Pass

Housed in an 18th-century country mansion, Compton Verney is home to the UK's largest collection of British folk art. The works on display range from weathervanes and furniture to shop signs and paintings of prize animals, and highlights include a rare work by folk artist Alfred Wallis, a Cornish fisherman who taught himself to paint at the age of 67.

2. The American Museum in Britain, Somerset
2-for-1 entry with National Art Pass

Established in 1961, the American Museum takes visitors on a journey through the history of America, from its earliest settlers to 20th-century inhabitants. Folk and decorative art is at the heart of the museum's collection, which features 30 New Mexican 'santos' – wooden and ivory statues depicting religious figures – and a signed ivory carving (or 'scrimshaw') by Frederick Myrick, one of the most famous artists from the whaling community in Nantucket.

3. Quilt Museum and Gallery, North Yorkshire
Free entry with National Art Pass

Managed by the Quilters' Guild of the British Isles, the Quilt Museum was the UK's first museum dedicated to the textile arts. During its 35-year history the museum has amassed a unique collection of antique and contemporary quilts, from the earliest-known British patchwork to pieces by notable contemporary quilt-makers. As well as full-size quilts, the collection features some niche items, including miniature quilts and quilted clothing.

​4. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, West Midlands
Free entry to exhibitions with National Art Pass

Born in the grounds of Kensington Palace to a painter and a civil engineer, Estella Canzani became one of Britain's most important folklorists, amassing a collection of folk art that encompassed costume, jewellery, pottery and woodwork. Following her death, the collection was distributed to museums across the UK, with a large number of pieces preserved in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, where they remain on display today.

​5. V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum), London
50% off exhibitions with National Art Pass

As the world's largest museum of decorative arts, the former Museum of Manufactures holds hundreds of pieces of folk art from across the globe and spanning hundreds of years in its collections, from decorative Norwegian ale bowls to Ionian cushion covers.

British Folk Art: The House that Jack Built is at Tate Britain till 31 August 2014. Save 50% on entry with a National Art Pass.

Tags: What to seeMuseums and galleriesGreat days out