Alberta Quilt Project Comes to Lethbridge

Lucie Heins  (left) and volunteer Diane Bretton at the Musée Héritage Museum in St. Albert at a recent documentation event. Photo by Shari Strachan.

Lucie Heins (left) and volunteer Diane Bretton at the Musée Héritage Museum in St. Albert at a recent documentation event. Photo by Shari Strachan.

7 Daytime Appointments available on JUNe 5 for Owners of pre-1970 quilts

Lethbridge – Do you have family quilts? Were they made in Alberta or brought as part of the family’s migration to Alberta? The Alberta Quilt Project has begun Phase II documenting heritage quilts: have your pre-1970 family quilts documented and photographed as part of Alberta’s quilt history at the Galt Museum & Archives on Thursday, June 5 when the Alberta Quilt Project comes to Lethbridge.

Inspired by a quilt documentation project conducted in 1982, and the subsequent creation of the travelling exhibition “Alberta Quilts” in 1984, the Alberta Quilt Project was initiated by the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) in 2009 when it surveyed Alberta quilters to capture current trends in quilting. The RAM was then invited as the first international institution to participate in the Quilt Index, by adding the more than 75 quilts in its collection to the online database.

The Quilt Index, a partnership of Michigan State University Museum, the Alliance for American Quilts, and MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online, is an online database of thousands of quilts used by quilt scholars and enthusiasts around the world.

“The Alberta Quilt Project also extends its efforts to document and photograph quilts found in the 200+ regional museums and in private collections throughout Alberta,” explains Lucie Heins, Assistant Curator, Western Canadian History at the RAM. “These quilts will be included in the Quilt Index as part of the project. We wish to continue to document heritage quilts made in Alberta or brought as part of household belongings to Alberta,” says Heins, “and hope that our research will help us tell the Alberta quilting story, past and present.”

Heins will be in Lethbridge on June 4 to train Galt volunteers on cataloguing and photographing community quilts as well as Galt Collection quilts for addition to the Quilt Index. Currently, only one of the quilts in the Galt Collection, a Doll Quilt, has been photographed; it can be viewed at the Galt’s Collections Online.

If you’d like to book a daytime appointment on June 5 to have your heritage quilt documented, please contact Leslie Hall at 403.320-4007 or leslie.hall@galtmuseum.com (through June 1) or Wendy Aitkens (after June 1) at 403.320-3907 or wendy.aitkens@galtmuseum.com. If possible, please bring biographical information about the quilt maker. You will be asked about the availability of quilt-related items such as patterns and templates, diaries, scrapbooks and photographs. The process will take about 60 minutes from arrival to departure.

Lucie Heins wraps up her visit with a Café Galt presentation on “Quilts and the Settlement of Canada” on June 5 beginning at 7:00 pm (regular admission rates apply). Details are at www.galtmuseum.com.

Background

The Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) is located in Edmonton and is Alberta’s provincial museum. The Royal Alberta Museum opened to the public on December 6, 1967 during Canada’s centennial year. The RAM has thirteen different programs allocated to the following three broad categories; Cultural Studies, Earth Sciences and Life Sciences. The museum’s mission is to preserve and tell the story of Alberta - the experience of people and places over time - and inspire Albertans to explore and understand the world around them.

The Western Canadian History Program (WHC), under the Cultural Studies umbrella, focuses on Alberta's social, industrial, domestic and decorative arts history from 1870 to the present. The collections are wide-ranging and diverse, but areas of special strength include medical equipment, ceramics and glassware, toys and recreational equipment, communications technology (from radios to computers), home furnishings and costumes and textiles.

The Royal Alberta Quilt Collection houses 75+ quilts dating from the 1880s to the present and associated with Alberta’s history.  These quilts include doll quilts, crib quilts, bed quilts, hand pieced & quilted, machine pieced & hand quilted, machine pieced and quilted, whole-cloth quilts, traditional quilts, contemporary quilts, signature quilts, commemorative quilts, crazy quilts, utility quilts, cigarette silk quilts, prize winning quilts, Red Cross quilts (WWI & WWII) and art quilts.

The Alberta Quilt Project was initiated in 2009. The Western Canadian History Program embarked on an Alberta Craft Research Initiative to document the material culture of craft production within the Alberta context. This research project addresses the history of craft development in the areas of studio pottery, hand weaving and quilting.

The Alberta Quilt Project, a component of this research initiative, looks at

  • contemporary quilts made in Alberta over the last 25 years and,

  • heritage quilts made in Alberta or brought by immigrants to Alberta.

There is great diversity in the types of quilts made today, from traditional to contemporary art pieces. In order to capture the current trends in quilting the WCH program has solicited Alberta guilds, groups and individuals to help document today's quilting history by completing a survey questionnaire.

The collecting of quilts is ongoing as donations present themselves. The purpose of the Alberta Quilt Project is also to photograph and document in more detail the Royal Alberta Museum quilt collection. We have now begun to do contemporary collecting in order to capture quilting trends today for the future.

The Royal Alberta Museum is the first international institution invited to participate in the Quilt Index, a partnership of the Michigan State University Museum, the Alliance for American Quilts, and MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online. The Quilt Index is an online database of thousands of quilts, utilized by quilt scholars and enthusiasts around the world.

The documentation and photos of the Royal Alberta Museum's quilt collection has been made available through the Quilt Index as of April 2012: view it here.

Anine VonkemanComment