Taking it on the Road: Quilt Museums

Last week I wrote about traipsing through the countryside to enjoy barn quilts (and lots of readers added comments about barn quilts near them—be sure to check them out for barn quilts near you). This week I’m still thinking about quilts and vacation, but this time it’s quilt museums. Whether you make the museum your final destination or just stop on your way to visit the relatives, there are plenty of opportunities to see quilts around the country. Check the museum’s websites and Facebook pages for information on hours and days of operation—some close for holidays and to install exhibitions. And if you’re not able to visit in person, many of the museums offer great online collections for your perusing pleasure. Talk about inspiration!

Here’s a round-up of a few of the museums dedicated to traditional quilts, contemporary quilts, and art quilts:

The International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, Nebraska


International Quilt Study Center & Museum , Location: Lincoln NE, Architect: Robert A.M. Stern Architects . A world class museum with state of the art exhibitions.
International Quilt Study Center & Museum , Location: Lincoln NE, Architect: Robert A.M. Stern Architects . A world class museum with state of the art exhibitions.

Established with a donation of 1,000 quilts in 1997, the International Quilt Study Center (IQSC) moved into its current quarters (the building above) in 2008. Just this month they opened additional gallery space, meaning there’s even more to see. Quilt exhibitions this summer include Getting to Know You, Ambiguity and Enigma: Recent Quilts by Michael JamesCovering the War, and Reflections of the Exotic East in American Quilts.

If you’re not sure how soon you’ll get to the IQSC, sign up for their Quilt of the Month: you’ll get an email highlighting an outstanding quilt from their collection. Need more inspiration? Look back at their archived Quilts of the Month—gorgeous!

Texas Quilt Museum in LaGrange, Texas

Texas Quilt Museum Pix 1
Texas Quilt Museum

You may remember reading about this museum in January because it’s the beneficiary of Moda’s Collections for a Cause Mill Book Series 1892 line of fabric. This link will take you back to the post to learn more about the museum’s history. The museum’s summer offerings (which open on July 2) include Intuitive Symmetry: Works on Silk by Judith Content, Kimono Quilts and Kimonos, and Antique Four-Poster Quilts.

National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky

African-American Double Wedding Ring from the Pilgrim/Roy collection
National Quilt Museum
National Quilt Museum

Exhibitions at this renowned museum change 8 to 10 times a year. This summer you can see SAQA: Food for Thought (through July 8), A Tradition of Variations from the Pilgrim/Roy Collection (through August 17), and A Small Miracle of a Southern Island: Quilts of Caohagan (opening July 10). To Honor and Comfort: Quilts of Valor will open August 20.

San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles in San Jose, California

War Bird West (framed) Heavy Metal T-shirts 34" x 38", Collection of Matt Gonzales
War Bird West (framed)
Heavy Metal T-shirts
34″ x 38″, Collection of Matt Gonzales
I Carry the Flame (framed) Harley Davidson T-shirts, leather, denim 15" x 19", Collection of Matt Gonzales
I Carry the Flame (framed)
Harley Davidson T-shirts, leather, denim
15″ x 19″, Collection of Matt Gonzales

This museum opened in 1977 and its website says it is “the first museum in the United States to focus exclusively on quilts and textiles as an art form.” Several exhibitions at this west coast museum close July 5 and the museum is closed from July 6-9 to install the next, exhibitions that include Found/Made, an exhibition of quilts made from found materials curated by Rod Kiracofe, author of Unconventional and Unexpected , and Recycled, Up-cycled, Repurposed Clothing Design: A Slow Fashion Movement (opening July 11).

LaConner Quilt and Textile Museum in LaConner, Washington

LaConner Museum first floor
LaConner Museum first floor
LaConner Seasonal Palettes exhibition
LaConner’s second floor hosts contemporary quilt exhibitions

Located in the Gaches Mansion, this museum first opened in 1997. Though it’s in a historic building and its first floor includes Victorian furniture, upstairs galleries include exhibitions of contemporary quilts. Several exhibits close June 28, but opening July 1 are 30 Quilts for 30 Years: Carol Bryer Fallert-Gentry, Celebrating 20 Years of Art, and Creative Knitting. Weaving Willow opens August 5.

New England Quilt Museum in Lowell Massachusetts

Seasonal Palettes exhibition at the New England Quilt Museum
Seasonal Palettes exhibition at the New England Quilt Museum

This museum opened in 1987 and is located in a building constructed in 1845 as the Lowell Institute for Savings. Through July 26, this museum offers Seasonal Palette, by 37 international quilt artists. AQSG’s Civil War Era Quilts opens July 1, A Summer Celebration of New England Quilts starts July 28 and a Carol Bryer Fallert-Gentry retrospective opens August 20.

Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg, Wisconsin

In Stitches: Embroidery Needle Arts

This museum is located on a 2.2 acre farmstead and its gallery and education center are in a refurbished barn. Through July 25 you can see In Stitches: Embroidery Needle Arts and then you can take in Second Fiber Arts Biennale: Wisconsin State of the Art (http://wiquiltmuseum.com/category/exhibits/upcoming-exhibits).

Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, Colorado

Gwen Marston's Checkerboard Medallion with Sawtooth Border
Gwen Marston’s Checkerboard Medallion with Sawtooth Border

This museum opened in 1990 with a gift of 101 quilts and has grown steadily.Exhibitions through July 28 include Gwen Marston: Contemporary Quilts and Native American Portraits by Patsy Heacox. Starting July 30 you can see It’s What We Do: 26 Years of Collecting and a 26th Anniversary Challenge.

The Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, Ohio

Quilt National 2015
Quilt National 2015

Although not exclusively devoted to quilts, this museum and education center hosted the first Quilt National in 1979. The show is the longest-running juried exhibition of art quilts in the country and takes place every other year. If you’re in the vicinity, you’re in luck because this is the year. Quilt National 2015 runs through Sept 7.

Other museums featuring quilts in their collections, include the Shelburne Museum; the DAR Museum; the Great Lakes Quilt Center, part of the Michigan State University Museum, the American Folk Art Museum.

Do you have a favorite quilt museum, or are there some I’ve missed? We’d love to hear!

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14 thoughts on “Taking it on the Road: Quilt Museums

  1. I have been to 3 of them. The Int’l Quilt Study Center, The Texas Quilt Museum and The National Quilt Museum in Paducah. Of the 3, I would say that the National Quilt Museum is the best for a visitor of any level of quilting. I just returned from my 4th visit there, and I can attest to the consistency of quality quilts, the absolute helpfulness of the staff, and the ease by which one can get around. They have an abundance of knowledgable staff eager to answer any question you may have about any of the hanging quilts, or simply to point out the things large or small you might miss on your own. A lovely, well lit, well rounded, friendly atmosphere. I found the Texas Quilt Museum to be a close second, and if I were closer or went to Texas more often, I would definitely stop in and see what’s happening there; I enjoyed it thoroughly!.
    Thanks for this, I’ll add the ones I didn’t have to my list, and if we are in the area, will make it a point to stop by and support them.

  2. I am very lucky in that I have seen several of the museums you mentioned. However, there is a fantastic museum also in Kalona, Iowa. They have a section of their quilt museum dedicated to Amish quilts and another section dedicated to “English” quilts as they are called by the Amish. And, they have several large thread chests. All in all, it was a very well done museum and well worth the stop. And, they also have a barn tour. Enjoyed the total experience of visiting Kalona.

  3. The Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA is wonderful. In addition, just down the street is the American Textile History Museum, which is amazing. They have a working machine (that dates back to the 1800s) that makes overshot coverlet fabric. It’s “computerized” in that there is a mechanism that can be programmed to create a specific overshot design and changed later on for a different overshot design – totally fascinating to watch!

    1. You’re right, Pat, and it’s especially bad because I’ve actually been there! Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Virginia Quilt Museum
    301 South Main Street
    Harrisonburg, VA 22801

    Latimer Quilt & Textile Center
    2105 Wilson River Loop Road
    Tillamook, OR 97141

    Quilter’s Hall of Fame
    The Quilters Hall of Fame
    Phone/Fax: 765.664.9333
    926 S. Washington St.
    Marion, IN 46953

    The Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum
    306 Bradley Street
    Carrollton, GA 30117
    (770) 301-2187

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