This just came in from our travelling correspondent, Liz McElhinny:
I was in Washington DC early in March for a conference and had the opportunity to explore the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The museum is in a beautiful historic Renaissance Revival building-a former Masonic Temple. It has three floors that showcase a permanent collection of works of women artists from the past and present. The mezzanine has a restaurant that is open for lunch. It is located in downtown DC.
The exhibit that caught my attention was “Workt by Hand”: Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts. It is a collection of quilts organized by the Brooklyn Museum and on loan for several months. It consisted of 35 quilts from 1795 through 1970. Included were whole cloth, pictorial applique, album quilts, Star of Bethlehem, Mariner’s Compass, Signature, Basket quilts, Double Wedding Ring, Tumbling Blocks (in silk and velvet), Broderie Perse, Log Cabin, Bars, Strippie, and Schoolhouse quilts. A special group of Crazy quilts were displayed and a noon lecture was given discussing the background of these types of quilts. The docent pointed out different fabrics and stitches that were used and emphasized the fact that these quilts and many in the exhibit were done by women who had the means and leisure time to make them. Most of the quilts were not made to be utilitarian, but to display the skills of the maker.
A small room in the exhibit was running a video from the DVD series “Why Quilts Matter”. Our small group has been watching this series at our monthly gatherings. And I noticed that a quilt from Bill Volkening’s collection, Tree of Life, was highlighted on the brochure.
Photography was not allowed, so I pulled out my sketchbook to take notes about the quilts. I think this allowed me to focus on the quilts and their designs instead of rushing through with my camera. I found one quilt design I have not seen before and I have added it to my “list”.
The museum gave out a packet of cards in a glassine envelope instead of a brochure. As you toured the building and enjoyed the art, periodically, an icon on the signage would correspond to a card in the envelope. The 12 cards gave additional information on a painting, quilt or piece in the collection.
I enjoy travelling and love to find quilt-related exhibits! Where have you been lately? You can post your answers in the comments section below.
Thanks, Liz! Sounds like a great place to visit in DC. Here’s a link to the museum’s website: www.nmwa.org