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Great Lakes Quilt Center

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Title: Great Lakes Quilt Center  
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Subject: Quilt Index, Michigan State University, Quilt National, Mola (art form), Jo Budd
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Great Lakes Quilt Center

The Great Lakes Quilt Center is Michigan State University Museum’s center of quilt-related research, education, and exhibition activities. While the museum, established in 1855, has long held significant collections, its focus of activities on quilt scholarship and education began with the launch of the Michigan Quilt Project at the museum in 1984. The Michigan Quilt Project not only spearheaded the documentation of the state's quiltmaking history, but also stimulated interest in strengthening the museum's quilt collection, upgrading its care, and expanding its use. As of 2008, the Michigan Quilt Project has collected documentation on over 9000 quilts in the state and the collection of quilts numbers over 700 with significant examples from Michigan and the Great Lakes region, examples of quilts from numerous African countries, major ethnographic collections of Native American quilts and Michigan African American quilts, and special collections assembled by Kitty Clark Cole, Harriet Clarke, Merry and Albert Silber, Deborah Harding, and Betty Quarton Hoard. The MSU Museum also houses two important collections developed by pioneering American quilt historians Cuesta Benberry and Mary Schafer.

In partnership with MATRIX: Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences OnLine and the Alliance for American Quilts, the MSU Museum/Great Lakes Quilt Center has spearheaded the development of two major national projects. The multimedia Quilt Treasures Project develops “web portraits” built from video-taped oral history and supporting archival materials. These web portraits document the lives, work, and influence of leaders of the American quilt revival of the last quarter of the 20th century. The Quilt Index is a national digital repository of quilt and quilt-related collections in distributed physical repositories. The Quilt Index digitally preserves the collections and makes them accessible and searchable for research and teaching. The project was beta-tested with the collections of the MSU Museum and, as of 2008, the repository holds over 18000 quilts from nine collections. By the end of 2010, another twelve collections will be added and plans are underway for the addition of scores more.

Stated goals

According to the GLQC website, the primary goals of the center are to:

  • Record written and oral history documenting quilting and the personal histories of quiltmakers
  • Expand and maintain a research collection of information on Great Lakes quilting
  • Initiate educational and exhibition programs to bring quilting history to a wider audience
  • Increase awareness of textile conservation issues and support preservation efforts of endangered textiles
  • Identify and recognize quilters and quilting traditions from diverse regional, social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds
  • Honor outstanding individual quilters and quilt groups through the Michigan Heritage Awards and other programs
  • Support the continuation of traditional quilting styles and practices through the Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program
  • Publish information on Great Lakes quilts, quilters, and quilting


The Great Lakes Quilt Center is home to several distinct quilt and textile collections. These include:


  • Quilts from MSU Museum Collections, Battle Creek, MI, 1987
  • New Donations to the MSU Museum’s Quilts Collections, MSUM, 1987
  • Stories in Thread: Hmong Pictorial Embroidery, MSUM, 1987
  • Quilts in the Classroom, MSUM, 1987
  • Michigan Quilts: 150 Years of a Textile Tradition, MSUM, 1987
  • Michigan Quilts: 150 Years of a Textile Tradition, Kresge Art Museum, 1987
  • Michigan Quilts: 150 Years of a Textile Tradition, Michigan Historical Museum, 1987
  • Quilts from the Merry and Albert Silber Collection, MSUM, 1988
  • Michigan Quilts, Chicago Hilton, 1989
  • Quilts of Rosie Wilkins: Improvisational Quiltmaking in the African-American Tradition, Michigan Women’s Historical Center, 1989
  • The Names Quilt Project Quilt: Traditions in Needlework in Social Change and Public Memorials, MSUM, 1990
  • African-American Quiltmaking Traditions in Michigan, MSUM, 1991
  • Quilts from the Michigan State University Museum Collection, Muskegon Museum of Art, 1992
  • A Family Legacy: Quilts from the Clarke Collection, MSUM, 1993
  • Native Quilts and Quilters: A National Gathering, MSUM, 1996
  • To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions, 1998
  • Native Quilts from the Michigan State University Museum Collection, Petoskey, MI, 1998
  • Native American Quilts from the Southwest: Tradition, Creativity and Inspiration, Institute for American Indian Art, Santa Fe, NM, 1998
  • Great Lakes Native Quilting, MSUM, 1999
  • American Quilt Study Group’s Seminar exhibits, MSUM, 1999
  • Oklahoma Quilt (memorial to the bombing), MSU Ad Building, 2000
  • Michigan Quilt Project: New Discoveries, MSUM, 2001
  • The Mary Schafer: A Legacy of Quilt History, MSUM, 2001
  • Quilts from the MSU Museum, Novi, MI, 2001
  • Great Lakes, Great Quilts, contest winners various venues, 2002
  • American Quilts from the Michigan State University Museum, Japan, 2003
  • Quilts Old and New: Reproductions from the Great Lakes Quilt Center, MSUM, 2003
  • Weavings of War: Fabrics of Memory, MSUM, 2006
  • Redwork: A Textile Tradition in America, MSUM, 2006
  • Quilts and Human Rights, MSUM, 2008

Current traveling exhibits

The following exhibitions were organized by the Great Lakes Quilt Center:

On-line exhibits


Projects directed by the Great Lakes Quilt Center include:

GLQC Projects associated with the Alliance for American Quilts include:

  • Michigan "Quilters Save Our Stories"
  • Michigan Boxes Under the Bed
  • Quilt Treasures


See also


Great Lakes Quilt Center (GLQC)


External links

  • Great Lakes Quilt Center
  • Michigan Heritage Awards
  • Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program
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