While everyone knows that The Smithsonian has wonderful museums celebrating history, aviation, science, and so much more, did you know that they have a fantastic quilt collection as well? They take great care in preserving the history and story of many different kinds of quilts. Come take a look behind the scenes and see a truly stunning collection! (Photo: Mary Hise Norton's Silk Quilt, 1825 - 1850. Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History)
"The National Quilt Collection incorporates quilts from various ethnic groups and social classes, for quilts are not the domain of a specific race or class, but can be a part of anyone’s heritage and treasured as such. Whether of rich or humble fabrics, large in size or small, expertly crafted or not, well-worn or pristine, quilts in the National Quilt Collection provide a textile narrative that contributes to America’s complex and diverse history. The variety and scope of the collection provides a rich resource for researchers, artists, quilt-makers and others.
Part of the Division of Home and Community Life textiles collection, the National Quilt Collection had its beginnings in the 1890s. Three quilts were included in a larger collection of 18th- and 19th-century household and costume items donated by John Brenton Copp of Stonington, Connecticut. From this early beginning, the collection has grown to more than 500 quilts and quilt-related items, mainly of American origin, with examples from many states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Most of the contributions have come to the Museum as gifts, and many of those are from the quilt-makers’ families. The collection illustrates needlework techniques, materials, fabric designs and processes, styles and patterns used for quilt-making in the past 250 years. The collection also documents the work of specific quilt-makers and commemorates events in American history."
Watch a behind the scenes tour of the collection below and learn about some of the oldest examples of American quilting.