Michigan Quilt Project
Michigan Quilt Project

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“Behind the Scenes” Tours of the Quilt Collections

Sign up for a peek behind the scenes at our museum. Each tour includes seeing a portion of the museum’s 1000+ quilt collection in its state-of-the-art rolled storage systems. You will view 10 quilts on examination tables, and receive a mini-lesson on how to care for old textiles. Feel free to bring show and tell quilts to share. Also available at the tours are special sales on quilt books from the MSU Museum's catalog. Selected titles will be 50% during the tour. Cash and check only.

The 90 minute tours are by appointment only and are generally scheduled on weekdays during business hours (9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.); evening and Saturday (except on MSU football game days*) tours may be available.

Price of the tour is $15.00 per person.

Tours require a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 20 persons.

To schedule a tour or for more information contact Beth Donaldson by phone at the QuiltLine (517-432-3800), by e-mail (donald20@msu.edu) or by mail (Quilt Tours, 570 Red Cedar Road, #301, MSU Museum, East Lansing, MI 48824-1045).

The collection includes over 1000 quilts. Choose from the following tour topics (choose 10 from the category) or make a special request:

"A Brief History of Quiltmaking in America." This tour illustrates the history of quiltmaking in America through selections of quilts at the MSU Museum. The lecture includes how to identify the age of quilt by looking at its fabric and style.

African American Quilt Collection. This collection was developed as part of a research project on African-American quilting traditions in Michigan and a related publication, African American Quiltmaking in Michigan. From early 20th c. traditional quilts of home-woven and dyed fabrics to more contemporary art quilts, this collection celebrates the wide variety of quilts made by African American quilters in Michigan.

"Amazing Appliques," covers the earliest broderie perse quilts, ca. 1820, to traditional red and green quilts from the 1850s to story quilts of the 1940s and more! Many prize-winning quilts are in this group.

Choose Your Own Tour. Browse the collections pages and choose the 10 quilts you would like to see. Cut and paste the webpage links in an email to Beth Donaldson, donald20@msu.edu. (Some quilts are too fragile for viewing and subsitutes will be suggested.)

"The Clarke Family Collection." Mother Bozena, daughter Laura, and daughter in-law Emilie were prolific quilters during the 1930s and 1940s. Their quilts won prizes in the hugely-popular Detroit News quilt shows of that era.

Crazy Quilts, mostly silk quilts from 1890-1920 featuring irregular patchwork, fancy embroidery, GAR ribbons, poems, and hand made lace.

Embroidered Quilts,” Penny square quilts from the Deborah Harding Collection, crazy quilts and kit quilts all feature fancy embroidery. Some of our quilts from the 1930s were quilted with embroidery floss in a style now popularly known as “Big Stitch.”

"Hexagon Quilts." One of the oldest published patterns, it first appeared in Godey's Lady's Book in 1835 and has never gone out of fashion. The earliest quilts were called Hexagons, then Hexagon Mosaics. Grandmother's Flower Garden quilts were one of the most popular patterns from the 1920s-1940s.

"Lone Star Quilts," another pattern that stands the test of time, this pattern appears over and over again. The MSUM collection contains rare Native American star quilts from the 1920s, early settler quilts from Michigan in 1850, and Star of Bethlehem quilts from the 1840s.

"The Mary Schafer Story," follow Mary's adventures making, collecting, researching and trading quilt history through a sampling of her quilts.

Merry & Albert Silber Collection,” Detroit-area collectors who have donated over 40 quilts to the MSU Museum collection. They range from the 1840's to 1890's and include pieced and appliqued quilts.

Scrap Quilts, Everyone’s Favorites,” ranging from 1840 to the present, these are quilts that feature a wide variety of fabrics. They are usually pieced, not appliqued.

*Home Football Scheudule for 2017-no tours available
September 2-Bowling Green
September 9-Western Michigan
September 23-Notre Dame
September 30-Iowa
October 21-Indiana
November 4-Penn State
November 18-Maryland

Home Football Scheudule for 2018-no tours available
September 1-Utah State
September 29-Central Michigan
October 6-Northwestern
October 20-Michigan
October 27-Purdue
November 10-Ohio State
November 24-Rutgers

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