Michigan Quilt Project
Michigan Quilt Project

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General information about the quilt collections at the MSU Museum

In 1952, the first quilts were accessioned into the MSU Museum’s collections when the museum acquired the entire contents of another museum which was dismantled. Built primarily through donations from collectors and quilters and augmented by a small acquisition fund, the museum quilt collection now numbers more than 700 significant historical and contemporary quilts. Unique collections include The Mary Schafer Quilt and Ephemera Collection, The Kitty Clark Cole Collection, The Merry and Albert J. Silber Collection, The Clarke Family Quilt Collection, The Deborah Harding Redwork Collection, The Durkee-Blakeslee-Quarton-Hoard Family Quilt Collection, The Michigan African-American Quilt Collection, The Cuesta Benberry Quilt and EphemeraCollection, and The North American Indian and Native Hawaiian Quilt Collection. The quilt collections are housed in state-of-the-art rolled storage system in the museum’s Cultural Collections Resource Center. Full and part-time curatorial and collection management staff supervise the daily care and special uses of the collections.

The Great Lakes Quilt Center also houses the Michigan Quilt Project Inventory files and the collections of materials (tape-recorded interviews, photos, field notes, patterns and other ephemera) generated by the center’s research projects. In addition, the center includes a room-use only library of over 3000 quilt and textile titles, including the Eve Boicourt Collection. The quilts and supporting materials provide the basis for ongoing research projects which result in the development of publications, exhibitions, public programs, and media projects.

By the close of the 20th century, the museum’s quilt-related research, collection, and education activities have grown substantially and are now recognized nationally. Through the dedicated energy and support of many individuals and organizations the center has become an important agent in the preservation of quilts and quilt ephemera as well as a leader in the development of innovative programs to make the collections and resources widely available for educational and research use. As the 21st century begins, the center looks forward to further increasing the accessibility of its resources to a wider audience, encouraging more engagement of individuals in the study of quilting, and continuing its active role in the preservation of quilts and quilt-related information.

-- by Marsha MacDowell [excerpt from Marsha MacDowell, ed., Great Lakes, Great Quilts. Concord, California: C&T Publishing, 2001

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