New Museum dedicated to quilting and textile arts opens in York in June 2008

Europe’s first and only museum dedicated to quilting and textile arts opens its new facility in June 2008, in historic York’s medieval St Anthony’s Hall.  The Quilt Museum and Gallery will become the national headquarters of the Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles and its world-famous Heritage Collection. 


From 7 June, visitors young and old will be able to enjoy not only the wonderful colours, textures and patterns of quilts and textiles ancient and modern on display, but also be encouraged to find out more, and even try their hand at this traditional, and hugely popular, range of crafts.


The Quilt Museum and Gallery adds another unique attraction to York’s fabulous portfolio of historic sites, museums and collections. The earliest known signed and dated patchwork, the colourful 1718 patchwork coverlet, is among some 600 quilts in the Guild’s Heritage Collection, which also includes miniature pieces, quilted clothing, tools and equipment.  In addition to showing the Heritage Collection, there will be a programme of special textile exhibitions from the UK and abroad.


Janice Gunner, President of the Quilters Guild, said:  ‘We are all thrilled that the move into our new Headquarters is about to become a reality, and with it the opportunity to share with the wider world the traditions and aspirations of this wonderful craft.  St Anthony’s is a fabulous location, rich in history: a wholly fitting home for our own Collection, and a focus for the exciting and innovative work going on within contemporary quiltmaking today.’


The inaugural exhibition ‘Quilts in Time:  Journey from Bed to Wall’ (7 June to 28 September 2008) is being guest curated by Helen Joseph, former Keeper of Contemporary Craft at Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead.  Around two-thirds of the quilts on display in the opening exhibition will be from the Guild’s own Collection while the remainder of items on show will be borrowed from contemporary quiltmakers including artists like Pauline Burbidge.  Visitors will be treated to favourite Collection items like the  complex Mrs Billings coverlet; the V for Victory quilt and the Kaleidoscope quilt made for a ‘bottom drawer’ as well as Michele Walker’s Fieldforce, acquired by the Guild in 2006. The iconic 1718 silk patchwork coverlet will also have a rare outing.  The ‘Quilts in Time’ exhibition is funded by Arts Council England.


‘Taking advantage of the wonderful Guild Heritage Collection, I was able to select stunning examples of historic quilts to link with fine examples of contemporary art quilts,’ Helen commented. ‘The combination of past and present design skills alongside technological virtuosity demonstrates the continuous development of quiltmaking through centuries and offer an imaginative, lively and inspiring exhibition.’


The second exhibition ‘Quilting Across the Globe’ (1 October- 31December 2008) from the collection of the International Quilt Study Centre in Nebraska represents a unique coup for the Quilt Museum.  It will be the first time the IQSC Nebraska has sent an exhibition outside the United States.  The St Anthony’s show marks the start of an international tour exploring the universal nature of quiltmaking.  By grouping together quilts that are not normally associated with each other, the exhibition will demonstrate that quiltmakers everywhere have addressed techniques in similar ways. An early 20th century Hawaiian quilt, for example, will be put alongside a circa 1980 ralli from Pakistan and a 19th-century Pennsylvania scherenschnitte to show the familiar fold and cut method used in appliqué.


Originally built as the headquarters of a religious guild in the 15th century, St Anthony’s Hall has a colourful past – as a workhouse for the poor, a magazine store during the reign of Charles I, a military hospital, a prison, and a school.  The beautiful medieval spaces have been restored and adapted to accommodate the Museum and its wide range of displays and activities.


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