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American Folk Art Museum: Year of the Quilt

The American Folk Art Museum has named 2011 the Year of the Quilt. Learn more about three quilts from its collection. 

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Global Perspective: Quilts from the American Folk Art Museum

Written by Maria V. Charbonneaux

Quilts: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum

“Just as with a painting, you can learn much about a quilt and who made it by studying the quilt,” says Elizabeth Warren, independent curator and trustee of the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.

In her book Quilts: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum (Rizzoli International Publications with the American Folk Art Museum; 2010), Elizabeth has included photos of 200 quilts representing 11 categories. The book kicks off a two-part exhibit of the same name and other quilt-related exhibits and events at the American Folk Art Museum, which has designated 2011 as the Year of the Quilt.

Most of the quilts in her book are what Elizabeth calls “orphans,” with little more than family anecdotes to provide hints about their past. Her job is to help fill in the blanks.

“Quilts are great road maps to American history, both in terms of women’s lives and textiles,” she says. She urges families to keep the histories of their treasured quilts alive. “Write down absolutely everything you know about it and keep that information with the quilt so the next generation will have it,” she says. In the following slides, Elizabeth shares insights on three quilts contained in her book. 

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