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Travel Logs August 2012

Compulsive Traveler

Stitching Together Quilting Memories

By Sandra Scott

Some see resurgence of quilting as a reaction to the high tech world. Quilts can be a window into the past and also move social issues forward such as the AIDS quilt project. Whatever your interests, there are quilt connections in nearly every location.

Leave your quilting at home but let the threads work their way through your travels. Whether you are a novice or a professional, a traditionalist, or a fiber artist, or perhaps not a quilter at all, seeking out quilts and other fiber arts will enhance your travel experience. Quilts reflect the times, the mood, and the history of an area and its people.

  1. v_scottquilts08The New England Quilt Museum: Located in Lowell, Massachusetts, the New England Quilt Museum celebrated its Silver Anniversary in 2012, as the only museum in the northeast devoted solely to the preservation, promotion and celebration of this uniquely American art form. The New England Quilt Museum has great exhibits featuring the best antique and contemporary quilts. Plus, quilters should find the nearby American Textile History Museum interesting.
  2. Seaway Trail Quilt Competition and Exhibition: The Great Lakes Seaway Trail Quilt Show is held annually at the Seaway Trail Discovery Center in Sackets Harbor, N.Y. The annual show focuses on a different theme associated with the Seaway Trail, a National Byway. The show features national and international quilting artists' creations, vendors, demonstrators, and exhibits in the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center.
  3. The Lancaster Quilt and Textile Museum: Located in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch County, the museum has one of the finest collections of Amish quilts. They represent the golden period of Amish quilting from the 1880s to the 1940s. The majority of the quilts come from the "Esprit Collection," owned by Doug Tompkins, a founder of the Esprit Corporation, who began collecting the quilts during the 1970s. Open by reservation only.
  4. The Virginia Quilt Museum: Located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, in the Historic Shenandoah Valley, the Virginia Quilt Museum is the official quilt museum of the Commonwealth by the Virginia. It is housed in the Warren-Sipe House built in 1856. Among their prized quilts are the rare Civil War quilts and on the upper level is a collection of sewing machines and assorted sewing tools.
  5. International Quilt Study Center & Museum: The center is located on the East Campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where they have the largest publicly held collection in the world. The 3500+ quilts date from the early 1700s to the present and represent more than 30 countries. A free tour is available with paid admission.
  6. The Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum: While in Golden, Colorado, stop by the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum to explore the scope of quilting, from bed coverings of the 1800s to contemporary art pieces. The museum hosts quarterly exhibits, tailored tours, and programs for adults and youth. For the researcher and quilt enthusiast, their Sandra Dallas Library contains over 3000 volumes featuring out-of-print literature, technique resources, historic patterns and research documents.
  7. San Jose Quilt & Textile Museum: The California museum's diversified collection is comprised of over 850 textiles, including historic and contemporary quilts, contemporary woven textile art forms and wearable art in its permanent collection. They offer opportunities to engage young people in educational, art-making activities including their on-site Kids Create program which celebrates the rich cultural diversity of the Bay Area with stories, crafts and folk traditions from around the world.
  8. The Visions Art Museum: Located in San Diego, California, the museum presents art quilts, fiber, and textile exhibitions throughout the year at the NTC Promenade, the arts and culture district of Liberty Station in San Diego, California. Artists from around the world are showcased in the state-of-the-art gallery built in 2007.
  9. La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum: The museum is located in the historic Gaches Mansion in La Conner, Washington. Their permanent collection includes quilts and textiles from 1820 to present. They host a variety of events and quilt challenges throughout the year. While it is one of the newer quilt museums it has grown in size and stature.
  10. Gentle Arts: Have an old quilt or other piece of textile that needs to be lovingly and carefully repaired or preserved? Gentle Arts in New Orleans has 55 years of cumulative textile experience. The have worked with private collectors, historic house museums, interior designers, auction houses, and insurance companies including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Historic Trust. They restore, repair and/or preserve all manner of textiles including quilts.

The resurgence of quilting and growth in quilt museums over the last five decades is due in part to the 1970s back-to-basics movement of the hippie generation that favored natural fabrics fueled by the spirit of the past rekindled by the enthusiasm of the US Bicentennial. Some see resurgence of quilting as a reaction to the high tech world. Quilts can be a window into the past and also move social issues forward such as the AIDS quilt project. Whatever your interests, there are quilt connections in nearly every location.


Sandra Scott travels the globe recording the top attractions at every destination.

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