The National Quilt Museum is located in the historic town of Paducah, Kentucky. The 27-year old facility is home to three galleries that display quilts and fiber arts through exhibits that rotate up to eight times per year. Additionally, the museum provides touring exhibits that travel the nation. The museum’s mission is to advance the art of quilting and support quilters through the display of quilts, quilting workshops, and educational programming.
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The museum’s permanent collection includes over 500 works of art. The permanent collection is rotated throughout the annual exhibits, along with visiting pieces on loan from other institutions. At any given time, up to 60 quilts from the museum’s own collection are on display in the main gallery. Quilts in the collection include award winners from national and regional quilting contests, as well as rare or historically relevant quilts from all over the world. The entire collection is indexed online, and also available as a book at the museum’s gift shop.
History: Bill and Meredith Schroeder of Paducah, Kentucky were the impetus behind the National Quilt Museum. The couple donated 85 quilts to begin the core of the museum’s collection, and initiated the build of the $2.2 million facility on the shores of the Ohio River in 1991. In 2008, the museum was awarded with a congressional designation as the official National Quilt Museum of the United States. The museum was recognized in 2011 with a Kentucky Governor's Award in the Arts, and has been named by USA Today as one of the world’s best quilt displays. Today, the museum is funded primarily through the gift shop, admissions and workshop fees, and donations. Approximately 115,000 visitors from all 50 states, view the Quilt Museum’s exhibits each year.
Ongoing Programs and Education: The museum’s educational programs reach over 4,000 youth each year, from kindergarten through high school. The School Block Challenge is one of the museum’s best known programs for children. The Challenge, now in its 25th year, asks school children to assemble a 16-foot square block quilt using a packet of three different fabrics. Recently, over 500 students from 20 states have participated. Many of the museum’s programs, such as Junior Quilters, Kidz Day and Quilt Camp, teach valuable skills through crafting and creative projects in school districts where arts education has been severely cut or altogether dropped from the curriculum.
Workshops for adults include sessions with some of the world’s most recognized quilters. Recent workshops have included a 3-day workshop with quilter Melinda Bula on flower appliqués. Quilter Kris Vierra will present a 2018 workshop on using sewing machines to rplicate the look of traditional English paper piecing. The Goose is Loose is a popular workshop led by artist Gail Garber. Ms. Garber teaches students to begin designing using free-form shapes. Hand quilting demonstrations take place once weekly thanks to the local YoYo Club.
Past and Future Exhibits: Current exhibits at the museum include Quilts of the Lakota, on display through January 2018. Each of the quilts in the exhibit is made by the Lakota Sioux, and demonstrates the change in tradition from hand-painting designs on buffalo hides, to hand-sewing star-design quilts that reflect each tribe’s identity. ‘Twisted’ will be on display through March 2018. The exhibit will show contemporary quilts that incorporate a vintage twist, whether through use of antique fabrics, abandoned blocks, or repurposed antique quilts.
‘A Walk in the Woods’ was a solo exhibit of the quilts of artist Pat Durbin. Durbin uses fabric and thread to create quilted landscapes that resemble paintings. ‘Neighborhoods Coming Together: Quilts Around Oakland’ displayed the work of Oakland, California’s African American Quilt Guild in honor of 2017’s Black History Month. 2017’s ‘H2Oh!’ displayed quilts made by members of the Studio Art Quilt Associates that explored the imagery and theme of water.
What’s Nearby: Paducah, Kentucky, home of the National Quilt Museum, features a historic downtown area that has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city was first settled in the early 1800’s. Paducha’s colloquial name of “Quilt City” points to the influence of the National Quilt Museum as the areas largest tourist attraction. QuiltWeek Paducah is the largest quilt show in North America, and takes place annually in both the fall and spring. Paducah was named the world’s seventh City of Crafts and Folk Art by UNESCO in 2013.
215 Jefferson, Paducah, KY 42001, Phone: 270-442-8856