American Craft Council

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American Craft Council
American Craft Council logo.jpg
FounderAileen Osborn Webb
Merger ofHandcraft Cooperative League of America and American Handcraft Council
Legal statusNon-profit educational organization
PurposeThe American Craft Council champions craft.
HeadquartersMinneapolis, Minnesota
  • 1224 Marshall Street NE, Suite 200
Coordinates44°59′59.44″N 93°16′12.3″W / 44.9998444°N 93.270083°W / 44.9998444; -93.270083Coordinates: 44°59′59.44″N 93°16′12.3″W / 44.9998444°N 93.270083°W / 44.9998444; -93.270083
Formerly called
American Craftsmen's Cooperative Council (1942–1951)
American Craftsmen’s Educational Council (1943–1955)
American Craftsmen's Council (1955–1969)
American Crafts Council (1969–1979)

The American Craft Council (ACC) is a national nonprofit organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that champions craft. Founded in 1943 by Aileen Osborn Webb, the council today hosts national craft shows and conferences,[1] publishes a bi-monthly magazine called American Craft [2] and a quarterly journal called American Craft Inquiry,[3] maintains an extensive awards program,[4] and is home to a comprehensive library and archives.[5]


In 1939, philanthropist and social advocate Aileen Osborn Webb formed the Handcraft Cooperative League of America, an affiliation of craft groups organized to develop markets in metropolitan areas for rural craftsmen. The same year, the American Handcraft Council is formed in Delaware by Anne Morgan, a friend and neighbor of Webb. In 1940, Webb's League opens a cooperative retail venue called America House at 7 East 54th Street in Manhattan. In 1941, they publish a first, untitled issue of what would later become the magazine Craft Horizons.[6] In 1942, Anne Morgan's American Handcraft Council and Aileen Osborn Webb's Handcraft Cooperative League of America merge into a single organization, the American Craftsmen's Cooperative Council, Inc. In 1943, the merged organizations initiate the American Craftsmen's Educational Council, and are granted a provisional charter from the Board of Regents of the Education Department of New York.[7]

For the next decade, the Council maintained their New York retail venue, initiated exhibitions featuring practicing craft artists (including "Designer Craftsmen USA", which was hosted by the Brooklyn Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the San Francisco Museum of Art[8]), and hosted national competitions such as "Young Americans" for craftspeople under 30. In 1955, the American Craftsmen's Education Council shortened its name to the American Craftsmen's Council and the acronym ACC fell into use.[7]

In 1956, the Council opened the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, now the Museum of Arts and Design, in a brownstone purchased by Webb at 29 West 53rd Street in New York City. The museum's inaugural exhibition "Craftsmanship in a Changing World"[9] featured 314 objects by 180 craftspeople from 19 states. The new building also housed the offices for Craft Horizons and the council's first formal library space. The Council launched its first national conference and began publishing a newsletter, Outlook, in 1957. In 1959, the Council divests in the retail space America House, which relocates to a brownstone purchased by Webb until closing 1971. In 1960, Craft Horizons is officially incorporated into the Council and subscribers are automatically enrolled as members. For the next decade, the council continues to host conferences, present and tour exhibitions through the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, and expand educational and awards programs.[7]

In 1966, ACC held its first regional craft fair in Stowe, Vermont, a precursor to the annual shows the Council continues to present in Baltimore, Atlanta, Saint Paul, and San Francisco.[10] In 1969, one year after celebrating its 25th anniversary, the American Craftsmen's Council changed its name to the American Crafts Council.

The 1970s bring many significant changes to ACC, including its first cohort of Fellows, elected in 1975. Over 200 craft artists, scholars, and philanthropists have now been honored through induction into the Council's College of Fellows.[11] While continuing to host shows and conferences, the Council relocates in 1978 to 22 West 55th Street and in 1979 the Museum of Contemporary Crafts reopens as the American Craft Museum at 44 West 53rd Street. The same year, Craft Horizons is renamed American Craft and founder Aileen Osborn Webb dies at age 87.

Another series of relocations take place throughout the 1980s, and in 1990 the American Craft Museum becomes independent. At the Council's new, larger space at 72 Spring Street, the library has space to expand throughout the 1990s, taking on significant donations from the estate of glass artist Robert Sowers and from Ed Rossbach and Mildred Constantine. Efforts to develop a computer database for the library began in 1988, and the Council officially launches its website in 1999. In 2001, the library's catalog becomes accessible online.[7]

In the 2000s, the Council renames and restructures its awards program and begins hosting "convenings," small-scale gatherings of key stakeholders in the field of craft meant to encourage peer-to-peer conversation. In 2010, ACC relocates from New York City to Minneapolis, MN, establishing an office and library in the historic Grain Belt Brewery building at 1224 Marshall Street NE. Not long after the relocation, the Council launches a new website that includes information for both American Craft magazine and the Council itself. In 2015, ACC launches several programs to highlight and serve emerging artists; Hip Pop, a shows initiative that provides a pathway for emerging artists to successfully take part in ACC shows, and Emerging Voices, an awards program that honors top emerging artist and scholars.[7]


  1. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2018-02-11.
  2. ^ "American Craft Magazine". American Craft Council. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  3. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2017-11-30.
  4. ^ "ACC Awards - American Craft Council". American Craft Council. Archived from the original on 30 November 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  5. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2018-02-11.
  6. ^ "Craft Horizons, November 1941 (Volume 1, Number 1)". Archived from the original on 2017-11-30.
  7. ^ a b c d e "". Archived from the original on 2017-07-29.
  8. ^ "Catalog of the exhibition "Designer Craftsmen U.S.A. 1953"". Archived from the original on 2017-11-30.
  9. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2017-11-30.
  10. ^ "ACC Shows". Archived from the original on 2018-02-11.
  11. ^ "College of Fellows". Archived from the original on 2017-08-23.

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