Quilts are not just for bundling up and keeping warm. They are considered works of art at the National Quilt Museum. There, you won't find any paintings or sculptures—only walls and walls of beautifully stitched fabrics. Some are so detailed, you won't believe they were stitched by hand.
The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky, is currently home to over 600 quilts made by roughly 350 artists from 12 countries and 47 states. They are currently celebrating 10 years of being dedicated by Congress. The museum facility and touring exhibits are held in three galleries and annually viewed by over 115,000 quilt and art enthusiasts.
One thing that makes this museum even more unique is that it currently owns 10 of the 100 best quilts of the twentieth century. The current exhibition, Fly Me to the Moon, showcases "a journey of quilts honoring the Apollo Astronauts, Apollo missions, and all things lunar" and displays 130 artists from eight countries. Of the near-thousand quilts on display, there are a few pieces that stand out to Rachael Baar, the museum's curator, because of the meaning behind them.
Take, for instance, this quilt called Air Show. In 1992, Jonathan Shannon was the first man to win the American Quilter's Society Best of Show Award. Depicting early model planes careening through the air, this quilt embodies a quality of in-motion flight and nostalgic appeal.
And Our Flag Was Still There by Melinda Bula of El Dorado Hills, California, was in response to her son deciding to join the Marines after college. "She made this quilt as a way of dealing with the emotions of that decision," Rachael told us. "The flag is weathered but still waving in the wind above a battlefield. She lovingly dedicates the quilt to all military families."
Port of Cassis by Lenore Crawford of Midland, Michiganwas machine pieced, painted, fused, raw-edge applique, machine quilted and took nearly a year to complete. "This quilt was done from a photograph that the artist took in the south of France," Rachael said. "During the creation process she left off the lower water reflection for several months in order to come with a solution to make it look like the ripples in water. There’s so much more depth than on a canvas or a photograph."
Summer Garden was done by Cynthia Morgan of Queensland, Australia. This wasn't the first time there have been international quilts incorporated into the collections at the museum. In fact, the museum is quite well-known outside of the United States.
"We have people from all over the world come visit us," Rachael told us. "This is on their bucket list. The museum is for anyone interested in art or interested in beauty. We're unlike any other art museum."
Whether you're wanting to see the Fly Me to the Moon exhibition or some of the best quilts from the 20th century, the National Quilt Museum is the place for you. And the best part? The museum is open year round.
Want to see more? In this video, Martha offers an exclusive tour of another remarkable quilting exhibit: