Michigan State University Museum

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Faculty and staff of the MSU Museum's Great Lakes Quilt Center have provided a key partnership role in developing, piloting, and evaluating the Quilt Index.

The Michigan State University Museum was established in 1857 as a collections-holding unit primarily for research and academic teaching unit. Beginning in the 1970s the museum has aggressively sought ways to make its collections accessible to a much wider public and to engage the non-campus public in all phases of museum research, collection development and care, exhibition, and educational activities. It is now recognized by Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs as one of a handful of Michigan anchor museums and is one of five cornerstones of the Center for Great Lakes Culture. The museum now also regularly engages in regional, national, and international activities including a range of cultural heritage initiatives in South Africa.

It is now recognized as a center of quilt-related activities and its various quilt collection development, research, exhibition, publication, and education activities are now consolidated under the Great Lakes Quilt Center, a unit of the museum. It has played a key role in the Michigan Quilt Project, an effort that involved individual and organizational volunteers around the state to document, preserve, and present Michigan's quilting heritage, and has documented 9,023 quilts.

The Sun Sets on Sunbonnet Sue, Michigan State University Museum collection

The museum's own quilt collection numbers more than 500 and includes historical and contemporary examples from around the world, with special emphasis on African-American quilts, Native American quilts, and quilts with special ties to Michigan. It also houses the Mary Schafer Quilt Collection (the collection of a nationally-acknowledged quilt historian), quilt blocks, sewing equipment, historic fabric, and quilt-related materials. Quilt research projects on North American Indian, African-American, and general Michigan quilting have generated over 100 tape-recorded interviews with quilters, photographs of quilters and quilting activities, field notes, and ephemera.

The Michigan Quilt Project (MQP) was established in 1984 to document, preserve, and present Michigan's quilting history. Through fieldwork, archival research, and a series of community Quilt Discovery Days, project staff work with students and volunteers to locate, document, and collect information and material on Michigan quilts and quilters. Tape-recorded interviews are conducted with Michigan quilters in their homes and quilting activities such as auctions, exhibits, contests, and bees are also documented.

Primary Collectors/Fieldworkers: Kitty Clark Cole, Merry and Albert Silber, Eve Boicourt, Deborah Harding, Marsha MacDowell, C. Kurt Dewhurst, Mary Schafer.

Collectors/Donors: Kitty Clark Cole, Merry and Albert Silber, Harriet Clarke, Betty Quarton Hoard, Eve Boicourt, Deborah Harding, and numerous other donors.

Exhibitions: "African American Quiltmaking in Michigan," Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, February 3 - September 29, 1991; Museum of African American History, Detroit, Michigan, November 1, 1991 - January 1, 1992; Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan February 23 - April 5, 1992; Ella Sharp Museum, Jackson, Michigan, January 14 - March 7, 1993.

"American Quilts from the Michigan State University Museum," Mitsukoshi Department Store, Tokyo, Japan, January 28 - February 9; Takashimaya Department Store Namba, Osaka, Japan, March 5 - 19; Mitsukoshi Department Store, Niigata, Japan, May 7 - 12; Mitsukoshi Department Store Station Museum, Kyoto, Japan, December 4 - 28, 2003.

"A Family Legacy: Quilts from the Clarke Collection," Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, June 6, 1993 - January 25, 1994; Michigan State Fair, Detroit, Michigan, August - September, 1994.

"Great Lakes Native Quilting," Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, September 19, 1999 - February 6, 2000; Sloan Museum, Flint, Michigan, September 14 - November 14, 2001, Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana, February 24, 2006 - April 23, 2006.

"The Mary Schafer Collection: A Legacy of Quilt History," Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, July 29 - December 31, 2001.

"The Michigan Quilt Project: New Discoveries," Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, July 29 - December 31, 2001.

"Michigan Quilts: 150 Years of a Textile Tradition," Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, September 13, 1987 - January 30, 1988; Kresge Art Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, September 12 - November 1, 1987; Michigan Historical Museum, Lansing, Michigan, September 13, 1987 - January 30, 1988.

"Michigan Quilt Project Blocks," Oakland County 4-H Fair Pioneer Tent, Davisburg, Michigan, July, 1997; Wolcott Mill Metropark, Shelby Township, Michigan, September 13 - 14, 1997; Oakland County 4-H Fair Pioneer Tent, Davisburg, Michigan, August, 1998; Wolcott Mill Metropark, Shelby Township, Michigan, October 15 - 18, 1999; Cameo Quilt Guild Quilt Show, International Academy, West Bloomfield, Michigan, October 14 - 15, 2000; Clinton-Macomb Public Library, Macomb Township, Michigan, March - April, 2002; Grand Rapids Girls School, Grand Rapids, Michigan, March, 2002; Troy Historical Museum, Troy, Michigan, July - October, 2002.

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"Native American Quilts from the Southwest: Tradition, Creativity and Inspiration," Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico, December, 1998 - March, 1999.

"Native Quilts from the Michigan State University Museum Collection," McCune Art Center, Petoskey, Michigan, October 5 - 31, 1998.

"MSU Museum Quilts," MSU Union in association with the American Quilt Study Group annual meeting, October 15-16, 1999.

"Quilting Sisters: African-American Quilting in Michigan," Krasl Art Center, St. Joseph, Michigan, January 13 - February 13, 2000; Port Huron Museum, Port Huron, Michigan, September 8 - October 21, 2001; Kalamazoo Valley Museum, Kalamazoo, Michigan, June 22 - September 8, 2002.

"Quilts from the Michigan State University Museum Collection," Southwestern Michigan College Museum, Dowagiac, Michigan, June - September, 1995; Midland County Historical Society, Midland, Michigan, December 1, 1997 - January 25, 1998.

"The Quilts of Rosie Wilkins: Improvisational Quilting in the African American Tradition," Michigan Women's Historical Museum and Hall of Fame, Lansing, Michigan,. August 1 - September 24, 1989.

"Quilts from the Merry and Albert Silber Collection," Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, August 21 - November 13, 1988.

"Michigan Quilts," International Quilt Market and Festival, Chicago, Illinois, May 9-14, 1989.

"Heritage Quilts," Battle Creek Art Center, Battle Creek, Michigan, September 2-27, 1987.

"Quilts Old and New: Reproductions from the Great Lakes Quilt Center," Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, January 12 - August 17, 2003.

"Sisters of the Great Lakes: Art of American Indian Women," The Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois, December 20, 1997 - July 5, 1998; Forest County Potawatomi Cultural Center & Museum, Crandon, Wisconsin, September, 2000 - February, 2001; Fort Miami Heritage Society, St. Joseph, Michigan, May - September, 2002.

"To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions," (Large Version-SITES) National Museum of the American Indian, New York, New York, October 16, 1997 - January 4, 1998; Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, April 19 - October 18, 1998; Fuller Museum of Art, Brockton, Massachusetts, March 13 - June 6, 1999; Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland, Ohio, July 3 - September 26, 1999; Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, Montana, October 23, 1999 - January 16, 2000; Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 12 - May 7, 2000; Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma, Washington, June 3 - August 27, 2000; Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico, September 23 - December 31, 2000; Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, January 13 - April 8, 2001.

"To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions," (Small Version) Southern Ute Indian Cultural Center, Ignacio, Colorado, October - December, 1999; Southwestern Michigan College Museum Dowagiac, Michigan, February 1 - March 25, 2000; Milwaukee County Historical Society, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September - December, 2000; Forest County Potawatomi Cultural Center & Museum; Crandon, Wisconsin, February - May, 2001; Woodland Cultural Center, Brantford, Ontario, January 25 - April 28, 2002.

"To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions," (Interpretive Panel Version) Akwesasne Museum, Akwesasne, New York, July 31 - September 22, 2000; Dubois Annual Quilt Festival, Dubois, Wyoming, August 10-12, 2001.

Publications: Marsha L. MacDowell, ed. African American Quiltmaking in Michigan. Michigan State University Press with the Michigan State University Museum, 1997.

Marsha MacDowell, ed. Great Lakes, Great Quilts from the Michigan State University Museum. Lafayette, California: C&T Publishing, Inc., 2001.

Marsha L. MacDowell and C. Kurt Dewhurst, eds. To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Museum of New Mexico Press in association with Michigan State University Museum, 1997.

Marsha MacDowell and Ruth D. Fitzgerald. Michigan Quilts: 150 Years of a Textile Tradition. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Museum, 1987.

Gwen Marston. Q is for Quilt: An ABC Quilt Pattern Book. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Museum, 1987.

Gwen Marston and Joe Cunningham. Mary Schafer and Her Quilts. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Museum, 1990.

Lynne Swanson and Marsha MacDowell, eds. Quilts from the Albert and Merry Silber Collection. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Museum, 1987.

Marsha MacDowell, "African-American Quiltmaking Traditions in Michigan," in Yvonne R. Lockwood and Ruth D. Fitzgerald, eds. 1992 Festival of Michigan Folklife. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Museum, 1992.

Marsha MacDowell, "Quilting in Michigan's Thumb," in Yvonne R. Lockwood and Marsha MacDowell, eds. 1998 Michigan Folklife Annual. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Museum, 1998. Marsha MacDowell, "To honour and comfort," in Quilters' Review, Winter 2001.

A. Christopher Carmichael, "Stitching to Heal and Remember: The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt in Michigan" in Yvonne R. Lockwood and Ruth D. Fitzgerald, eds. 1996 Michigan Folklife Annual. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Museum, 1996.

Ruth D. Fitzgerald and Marsha MacDowell, "There's Good Money in Quilts," in Yvonne R. Lockwood and Ruth D. Fitzgerald, eds. 1988 Festival of Michigan Folklife. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Museum, 1988.


--compiled by Lynne Swanson and Marsha MacDowell, 2003

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