The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles in California celebrates the art, craft and history of quilting and textile creation and is the first museum in the United States to focus on fiber art through historical and contemporary exhibitions.

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The San Joe Museum of Quilts and Textiles in San Jose, California was the first museum in the United States to showcase quilts and textile art exclusively. Opened in 1977 as American Museum of Quilts and Related Arts as a store front in Los Altos by the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association, the mission of the museum was to highlight women artists and demonstrate how quilting and textile art was an important vehicle of artistic and social expression for women in the area.

The museum became an incorporated nonprofit museum in 1986 and established a board of trustees. After having many temporary homes included rented retail spaces, a Spanish colonial home, and shopping center, the Museum joined with Steven Oliver, President of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art board to purchase a 13,000-square foot historic property that was built in 1923. The space underwent renovations costing $1.3 million and opened in September 2005 in its current, permanent location.

18,000 people visit the museum annually which is open Wednesday through Sunday and offers free admission on the first Friday of each month during extended hours and pay what you can admission during regular open hours.


The museum collection is comprised of 850 quilts, American and ethnic textiles, and clothing. Many of the artifacts were gifted to the museum from the museum founders. The exhibits at the museum are temporary and rotating, designed by the curators from artifacts chosen from the permanent collection.

The Collection- The permanent collection of the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles is comprised of more than 1,000 textile art pieces and quilts from around the world. Curators at the museum use select pieces from the collection to create the exhibitions. While the entire collection is not open to the public, private tours can be booked with advance registration and fees. One of the main objects of the museum is to promote the role that Bay Area artists had on the fiber art industry through the latter half of the 20th century. The collection is focused on holdings in historic American and European quilts, contemporary art quilts from California quilters, contemporary, wearable fiber art, and modern fiber art post 1940.

FiberSapce Exhibition Program- This special exhibition space at the museum provides a platform for community members to curate their own professional exhibits. Proposals must be submitted to the museum and all exhibits must have a clear theme with three or more artists being showcased. Proposal applications can be found and submitted online.

AIR Program- The Artist in Residency program allows for an artist to take up residency in the museum for a three-month period during which they will be granted a studio space to work and exhibit space to showcase that work. Single artists and collaborative groups from the Bay Area are welcome to apply for the residency program.

Education Opportunities

The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles hosts more than 5000 students each year through field trips and community group tours. Tours include education on and hands on interaction with the textiles and art in the museum. Themes of history, science, environment, and women’s art and storytelling are some of the ways the docents incorporate resources for higher education.

Higher Education Tours­- These tours are 40 minutes guided and 20 minutes self-exploration with writing activities and hands on activities when more than 30 people are included in the group. Specialized tours are available as well as the research library by appointment.

School Tours- Student tours include a 45-minute docent guided tour and a 45-minute textile art activity with learning through Visual Arts Content Standards of California and inquiry-based learning.

Senior and Adult Tours- These tours are 60 minutes total with 20 minutes of the tour being self-guided. For adults, there is an optional hand on activity that can be added to reservations and optional group activities. Senior will appreciate the fully handicap accessible space with all exhibitions found on the first floor of the museum.

Renting the Museum- There are 3 galleries that accommodate up to 200 guests as well as an event space that seats 48 that is separate from the galleries. These spaces are suitable for lectures, artist receptions, meetings, and team building activities. Food and drink are only allowed in the event space and not permittable in the galleries. Rental of the space outside of normal business hours requires 30 days advance notice.

520 S. First Street, San Jose, California, 95113, website, Phone: 408-971-0323

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