New England Quilt Museum

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About the Museum

"Lowell is uniquely suited for the Quilt Museum as the historic center of the nation's textile industry as well as the site of the first urban National Park celebrating that history. Since the New England Quilt Museum opened its doors in 1987, it has worked to present the finest examples of traditional and contemporary quilts. The NEQM collection consists of over 150 quilts and quilt tops representing the history of American quiltmaking. The museum's first acquisition, commissioned by the New England Quilters Guild for New England Images I, was Archipelago, a contemporary work made in 1983 by Nancy Halpern. In 1986, a second contemporary piece was commissioned by the Guild; Bloodroot made by Ruth McDowell, a two-sided, three-dimensional quilt that was ground breaking in both concept and execution. During the first four years of the museum's operations the number of acquisitions ranged from 8 to 19 antique quilts per year. The museum also collected quilt-related items: patterns, quilt tops and squares, sewing machines, and educational materials.

The year 1991 was a memorable one for the New England Quilt Museum. Early that year, the museum received a gift of thirty-three quilts from the collection of Gail Binney and her father, the late Edwin Binney III which nearly doubled the museum's collection. The quilts were all antiques and the gift included many exceptional and unique pieces: mid-nineteenth century indigo and blue quilts, bold Amish geometrics, and traditional patchwork and appliqué quilts. These fine quilts provided both breadth and depth to the museum's collection. Even in the early days of their collecting, Gail and her father believed that their quilts should be donated to an institution that would be able to share them with an appreciative public. The Binney family's commitment continues as each year Gail designates another quilt from her collection to be donated to the museum.

The museum actively collects and preserves antique and contemporary quilts and quilt related items. The permanent collection ranges from whole cloth quilts made in the late 18th century to contemporary quilts made by highly regarded art quilters. A selection of quilts from the permanent collection is always on display in a gallery designated for the collection, in study storage, and in period rooms.

The majority of the items in the Permanent Collection of the New England Quilt Museum were acquired through the generosity of donors. For information about donating quilts, quilt tops, and related textile and sewing items, see

source: New England Quilt Museum,

A sampling of the NEQM's quilt collection may be accessed online on their own website at

The museum's quilts are now visible on the Quilt Index at

The New England Quilt Museum Library offers research access to the public and material borrowing for members by prompt and affordable US Mail to anywhere in the US. Library information is available at

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