Mama’s Quilts in a Museum: Take an Online Tour

Museum Description of Nana's QuiltIt wasn’t always that handmade quilts, the work of women who had a lot of other work to do, as well, were considered artwork in their own right. They were used, after all, and used long and hard, not set aside for posterity. If they were hung up, they were hung up to divide up living spaces or provide insulation, not set on a gallery wall. They were created not by professional artists, but by real women for real needs who used as their materials what was at hand.

And yet, handmade quilts are artwork. They are beautiful. And they are now often hung in museums. Here’s an online tour of some of the nicest permanent collections:

As far as temporary collections, have you tried your local history museum? A few years ago, I lent a crib quilt my Nana made for me (polyester, of course) to the Monroe County History Center for an exhibit on quilts that they were hosting. I know it wasn’t the Smithsonian or anything, and my Nana, while a wonderful seamstress, wasn’t exactly from Gee’s Bend, but still, I think she would have been proud that one of her quilts, made with love by a very busy woman with the materials she had at hand, meant to be used long and hard by two generations, now, of baby girls, had its time hanging on the wall in a real museum, too.

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Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life, and my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties.


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  1. As someone very interested in women’s history and crafting (typically as separate entities), this is a fascinating way to look at both that I never would have thought about. Thanks.

  2. My post-grad studies were all about women’s subversions–utilizing the activities accessible to them to achieve goals or participate in ways of being that were not traditionally accessible to them–so I am nothing if not tiresome on the subject.

    Women creating works of art and experiencing the mindset of the artistic way through something as stereotypically mundane as sewing for their families using their families’ cast-off fabrics is such a fascinating example of this subversion.

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