Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Finding a Museum

One question I am often asked goes something like this: I have a quilt I want to donate to a museum. How do I choose one?

You have to find a good match for the quilt and the museum.
With taxpayers refusing to fund the arts and humanities, museums are taking fewer quilts. You have to sell the quilt (so to speak) to the museum acquisitions committee. (Don't try to actually sell it---they have very little money to spend.)

Different types of museums are interested in different types of quilts. If the quilt has fabulous graphics, like the two above,  you might want to approach an art museum.

Quilt dated 1795---
Any early quilt probably has a good chance of being accepted.
This one is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution---a very good home.

Mid 19th century samplers like this often are signed with place names.  This would be a treasure for any museum, and particularly for one in the area where it was made.

If the quilt is very old, of unique and collectible style or has a fabulous provenance (history of who made it and who owned it) you may want to approach a history museum with a focus on that area.

I've donated two quilts in the last year and I chose both museums based on the quilts' histories.

A whitework  quilt made by the
Mennonite church in Halsted, Kansas, about 1960

The white wholecloth quilt above went to the Kaufman Museum at Bethel College, a Mennonite school. The reason I asked them and the reason they were glad to get it was that it was a Mennonite quilt. More than that it---was made in Halsted, near the school and commissioned by the wife of a former president of the college. I knew all this provenance because it was a family quilt and I thought it would be a good idea to get it all written down and in their hands now.

I photographed the quilt, described its history and made a proposal. I included information about its condition and pointed out a water stain in the center.

Their acquisitions committee met and agreed to take it. I was thrilled because this seemed the perfect home.

The other quilt is the crazy quilt I blogged about a few weeks ago---the tattered piece that I really knew nothing about. I immediately noticed it was from Michigan and had commemorative ribbons from early-20th-century Michigan gatherings. Even though we had no idea who made it I thought it would be a prize for a history museum in Michigan.
See that post here:

My first thought was the Museum at Michigan State University, which not only has a great quilt collection but a focus on the social context of quiltmaking. The quilt was in terrible shape but it is still a social document. Their acquisitions committee also agreed.
Beth in their collections department wrote me a note:

"We’ll be working on getting the individual ribbons photographed so we can add the quilt to the Quilt Index. We will also be stitching netting on the areas that are shattering. This will take quite a bit of time. We here in Michigan are so happy that the unknown lady found you and that you thought of us."

Another good home.

Had they not taken it I'd made a list of other options---e.g. local history museums in counties where the ribbons originated. Maybe a museum interested in Civil War history.

When you are considering a home here are two things you should NOT consider.

Early quilt now in the collection of the Museum at 
Michigan State University with serious damage
 caused by long-term display in another museum
One is whether the quilt will be on permanent display. I cannot tell you how many people write and say this is their major criteria for a good home. It's NOT, NOT, NOT in the best interests of any textile to be on permanent display. See more about this damaged chintz quilt by clicking here:

The other foolish criteria is that the museum must promise that they will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER sell or give the quilt away. This is not in the best interests of the institution. Museums change their focus, their budgets, their bricks and mortar. Donors would like to control the future but that's an illusion. Pick an institution you trust and let the future happen.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Album Quilt Part 2 Rockland County NY


In this album quilt in the last post the dog caught my eye, reminding me of another quilt with a dog or two.
There's a similar dog and another cut from chintz.

These quilts have more than dogs in common. The names on the blocks are from the same families. The quilt directly above was sold at Sotheby's and advertised as


the quilt top on muslin with seventy-two unique individual squares, each by a different maker in a different style of appliquè, embroidery and Berlin work, and each measuring approximately 10 inches square. Sixty-six of the squares have identifiable names or initials; a book of Blauvelt family genealogy and extensive historical information about the known contributors comprise part of this lot.
4 pieces

You may recall from the last post that the dog on Quilt # 1 was made by a Van Houten.
"Little, Miss Mary Van Houten
Made a dog, would set you shouting,
He is going with his basket, quiet
I do not think, he means to try it."

There are many Blauvelts on both
On quilt # 1
Mrs. M. Blauvelt
Mrs. Eliza Blauvelt
Maria Blauvelt
Lucretia Blauvelt
I have had Blauvelts on the brain as I have been thinking about a pictorial quilt from the family of Ellen Blauvelt Hasbrouck that is in the Smithsonian. See the 1812 blog post today here:

And then there is this quilt dated 1855 which was auctioned at Skinner Auctions in 2010

From Rockland County, New York

There are no dogs but it is very much like Quilt # 1 stylistically

A few of the style characteristics in common:

1) Almost identical border of bowknots and swags

E. Dizendurf (?)

2) Similar symmetries (or lack of symmetry) in the blocks.

Lavina Haring
3) Use of corner designs in each block that create secondary patterns when blocks are set side by side.
One name all three have in common is Haring.

And didn't Eliza Cooper (here on Quilt #3) write the poem for Quilt #1 that was on the last blog post?

The Blauvelts signed other quilts too.

Here's an album now in the collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum with a list of signatures here:
Among them: Joanna Blauvelt, H A Blauvelt and Mary Haring

And an album pieced of stars in the Nyack Historical Society collection includes these names:
Catherine E. Blauvelt,  Cornelia C. Blauvelt, Kate Blauvelt, M.E. Blauvelt, Maggie Blauvelt
and Margaret Blauvelt
plus Harings and Van Houtens.
Read more here:

These New Yorkers were productive quiltmakers. The signatures can tell us a lot.
The Quilt Index has a signature quilt project---recording the names on the quilts, a very useful tool for genealogists and local historians. Read about it here:http://www.quiltindex.org/sqpessay.php

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Album Quilt with Key

I came across an album quilt in an online newsletter from the Orangetown Museum in Rockland County, New York, which featured a quilt from their collection made for Elizabeth Griffiths in 1852. It's an album sampler, not too important in its style or appearance but important to the museum because of who Elizabeth's great-grandson grew up to be---the painter Edward Hopper.

The quilt was made by 62 friends, probably members of the Middletown Baptist Church where Elizabeth's husband Joseph was pastor. The quilt has additional importance to quilt historians because Eliza Cooper, one of the makers, wrote a poem for the presentation that remains with the quilt.

She described many of the blocks with a key and attaches symbolism and meaning to some of the images---something we rarely find written down.
It caught my eye because I have been keeping a file of dogs on quilts and this particular quilt has a dog carrying a basket. And she describes this block!

"Little, Miss Mary Van Houten
Made a dog, would set you shouting,
He is going with his basket, quiet
I do not think, he means to try it."

Dang!---no deep meaning. A good dog carrying a basket [full of something edible?] and he is not going to try it. (Highly unlikely around here.)
Most of the described blocks have a similar lack of profundity beyond the obvious. For the lamb along the bottom:

"You will find a lamb living innocently
By this Julia Cooper’s name you will see
The moon is shining clear and bright
And stars the signal of a clear night."

[The poem has a row and block number assigned to each verse but I can't figure out her system. I am just going by the visuals.]

Here is some symbolism:

"Then the one by Mrs. Sarah Haring
Has a flower like the rose of Sharon,
Also a pitcher, let up fill our glass
And let us have the Maine law come to pass."

The Maine Law was a temperance law---I think we can interpret this as a water pitcher symbolizing support for temperance. And I was also impressed that she called the flower---the typical flat rose---a rose of sharon, a description we use today.

There is a verse that gives some insight into the rules---made to be broken I guess.
"And Mrs. Hope she done her best
But it is not as pretty as the rest,
Curtain calico broke the pledge
So you will find it by the edge."

 I am guessing the offender is the above bird perched in chintz leaves----"curtain calico?" Did the organizers say "No chintz---No curtain calico---It's old fashioned. We are modern quilters."

And poor Mrs. Hope, who forgot to read the memo, to be forever insulted in the poem.
See the newsletter with the quilt and the poem here

The Museum is in Pearl River, New York.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Antique Fabric at Quilt Market

Once the quilt dealers get set up

They are glad to show you their quilts

Here's an interesting modern style rose.
Couldn't find the design in my Encyclopedia of Applique.

I always go for the boxes of fabric. The dealers know the designers love the antique yardage.

It's way cheaper to buy fabric than a whole quilt.
[A commenter asked me to post larger pictures so she could see more detail, and some of these are larger than usual. The bigger the picture, though, the longer the blog takes to load.]

Here's a great bird chintz from the early 19th century. But wait a minute---didn't Jo Morton already reproduce that and do a great job?

Two terrific borders from Cindy Rennels's booth.

Here's one of the blocks I bought---
a strange but lovely color scheme from about 1850.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Traditional Design at Quilt Market

On one hand we have contemporary design and on the other traditional....

 This booth is Quilts Remembered

Anne Marie and her pie safe

Quilted Crow Girls from Tasmania

Border Creek Patterns
 I never get tired of looking at traditional quilt blocks with updated colors, fabrics and formats.

Diamond Textiles

Can't read my notes but isn't it a nice quilt!

Primitive Gatherings

Their Folk Art Album

They have lots of minis

Claudia's Baltimore Quilt

The cover quilt for Edyta Sitar's 2013 Calendar

And the WoolyLady and a color coordinated customer.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Antique Quilt Dealers at Quilt Market

There are always several dealers in antique quilts at market.

Watching them haul in their troves of treasures is always fun.

They pack a lot of stuff into the booths.

Can't wait to see these all set up.
Deb's blogging about market too and her pictures are probably going to be in better focus.

And here are some other bloggers who are keeping up with what is happening