Michigan Quilt Project
Michigan Quilt Project

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About the Great Lakes Quilt Center

First, a note about the MSU Museum…

The Michigan State University Museum, founded in 1857, is one of the oldest museums in the Midwest and is accredited by the American Association of Museums. "As Michigan's land-grant university museum, it is committed to understanding, interpreting, and respecting natural and cultural diversity. This commitment to society is met through education, exhibitions, research, and the building and stewardship of collections that focus on Michigan and its relationship to the Great Lakes, and the world beyond."

The museum is a public steward for 2.5 million objects or specimens of cultural and natural history from around the world. The museum's holdings of cultural collections and research, exhibition, and education programs related to the Great Lakes are particularly strong, especially in the area of archaeology, agricultural heritage, and folklife. Its Michigan Traditional Arts Program, begun in the early 1970s, is regularly cited as one of the best in the nation. The Michigan Traditional Arts Research Collection of objects, taped interviews, field notes, and photographs relating to folklife provides the only major state resource on this subject and includes materials from all of the surrounding states and provinces.

About the center...

The Great Lakes Quilt Center has evolved from the sustained and significant quilt-related activities and resources at the Michigan State University Museum and the museum's long-standing interest in and commitment to preserving and presenting traditional arts history. The Michigan Quilt Project, begun at the museum in 1984, not only spearheaded the documentation of the state's quilting history, but also stimulated interest in strengthening the museum's quilt collection, upgrading its care, and expanding its use.

Goals of the Great Lakes Quilt Center...

The primary goals of the center are to:

record oral and written history documenting quilting and the personal histories of quiltmakers

expand and maintain a research collection of information on Great Lakes quilting

initiate research, 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 quilts, quiltmakers, and quiltingmaking history and traditions, especially that of the Great Lakes region.

Research Projects

The primary ongoing research projects are:
Michigan Quilt Project. Through fieldwork, archival research, and a series of community Quilt Discovery Days, center staff work with students and volunteers to locate, document, and collect information and materials on quilts and quilters. For special projects, tape-recorded interviews are conducted with quilters in their homes, and quilting activities, such as auctions, exhibits, contests, and bees, are also documented.

The Quilt Index (www.quiltindex.org). The Michigan State University Museum is the administrative home of the Index, a searchable repository of digital photographs, texts (oral, video, and written), and documents pertaining to quilts, quiltmakers, and quilt-related activities. As of January 2013, it contains more than 50,000 digital representations of quilts from over 200 museums, libraries, achives, research projects, and private individuals. The Index also includes journals, curriculum lessons, virtual exhibitions, and a variety of tools to facilitate use of quilt-related data in research and teaching.

Major short-term research projects:
Staff of the Great Lakes Quilt Center also team with educators, scholars, quiltmakers and quilt owners around the world to pursue short-term projects that lead to collection development, educational programs and products, exhibitions, festival programs, and digital media. Examples include the following: African American Quiltmaking in Michigan Project, Quilts and Health Project, South African Quilt History Project, To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Tradtions Project, China Quilt History Project, Quilts and Human Rights Project, Quilt Treasures, and the Digging Into Data Project.

Communication and social media projects:
Currently the GLQC/MSUM is primarily responsible for the following Blogs, Facebook pages, E-News, and Listserves.
Great Lakes Quilt Center, Michigan State University Museum
Michigan Quilt Project
Quilt Documenation
Quilts and Health
Quilts and Human Rights

Quilts and Health
Native Healing Quilts
Quilt Index (a primary contributor to this along with the Quilt Alliance)

H-Quilts - The Michigan State University Museum established and staffs this moderated discussion forum whose purpose is to provide an exchange of information for individuals around the world engaged in quilt research and documentation.

Great Lakes Quilt Center E-Newsletter

Frequently Asked Questions About the Great Lakes Quilt Center (click here)

Staff with day-to-day full or part-time responsibilities for GLQC collections or activities

Beth Donaldson, Quilt Collections Assistant, Data Integrity Specialist, Traveling Exhibits Manager, Quilt Index Coordinator
Marsha MacDowell, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Art and Art History, Curator of Folk Arts, Quilt Index Director
Lynne Swanson, Collections Manager, Cultural Collections
Pearl Yee Wong, Collections Coordinator
Mary Worrall, Curator of Cultural Heritage,
Quilt Index Associate Director
Lora Helou, Communications Manager, MSU Museum

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