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Quilts and Textiles

To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions

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"If not for MSU [Museum's] work, most of our constituency would not have had the opportunity to be exposed to such culturally significant objects."
—Southwestern Michigan College Museum, Dowagiac, MI

"The spirit of the first people is being shown and shared with us. They surely honor their culture."

"You can feel the history and stories behind the quilts."

"Nice representation of Native American Work. Something for all ages."
—Visitor comments, Southwestern Michigan College Museum, Dowagiac, MI

"Not only beautiful, but also very educational and informative to our small native and non-native community here in Northeastern Wisconsin."
—Forest County Potawatomi Historical/Cultural center and Museum, Crandon, WI

"Makes me want to go to bed and cover up with a warm quilt."

"Loved every minute of looking at each and every beautiful quilt here. Very glad we came."

"I had no idea of the richness of Native quilts. Thank you."
—Visitor comments, Woodland Cultural Centre, Brantford, Ontario, Canada

Of the many North American Indian expressive art forms, perhaps one of the least well known is quiltmaking. This exhibition celebrates quilting within diverse communities and pays homage to the artists who have expressed their cultural heritage and creativity through this art. It examines how quilts and quilting-the ceremonies surrounding them, the society of the artists who make them, and the passing on of traditions through quilts- bind neighbors and families within and across generations.

Quiltmaking in Native communities was first learned through contact with Euro-Americans. Native peoples became adept at quilting and began to use quilts for purposes unique to their own cultures. Quilts have been used as bed and shelter coverings, infants' swing cradles, weather insulation, and as soft places to sit on the ground. In some communities, quilts play important roles in tribal ceremonies, such as in the honoring of individuals and as fund-raisers. Native quilters get their design ideas from many sources. Some quilters use the design motifs of their specific tribe or clan or use patterns and colors reflecting close spiritual ties to the natural world.

To Honor and Comfort is a small version of the larger, national touring exhibition of the same name, developed by the Michigan State University Museum and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian. It is designed to meet the needs of smaller institutions which cannot accommodate the larger exhibition.


Stauth Memorial Museum
Montezuma, KS
July 7 - September 30, 2018

This exhibition has been displayed at the following sites: Forest County Potawatomi Cultural Center & Museum, Crandon, WI; Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, Chadron State College, Chadron, NE; Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, Mashantucket, CT; Milwaukee County Historical Society, Milwaukee, WI; Southern Ute Indian Cultural Center, Ignacio, CO; Southwestern Michigan College Museum, Dowagiac, MI; Virginia Quilt Museum, Harrisonburg, VA; Woodland Cultural Centre, Brantford, Ontario, CANADA; and Comanche National Museum and Cultureal Center, Lawton, OK..

  Rental fee (12 week period) $5,000, plus shipping
  Number of pieces: 29
  Running feet required: 300 running feet
  Insurance Value: $31,000
  Security requirement: Lockable, limited access display area; trained guards or comparable protection system; provisions to prevent public from touching objects; object handling by museum professionals; temperature and light controls; fire protection according to local ordinances
  Additional materials available: Press materials.

This traveling exhibition is a Michigan State University Museum, Michigan Traditional Arts Program activity supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, Jeffrey and Kitty Cole, and the MSU Office of the Provost.

Photo of Hawaiian Flag Quilt made by Harriet Soong and Sharon Balai in 1997.

PICTURED: Hawaiian Flag Quilt, Harriet Soong and Sharon Balai (Native Hawaiian), 1997. Photo by Fumio Ichikawa.


































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