Textiles are objects like clothing, quilts, and weavings which tell very personal stories of our history. They are an important part of a museum's collection. Most of them are also fragile and difficult to preserve. When textiles are on exhibit, light can fade colors. Insects are drawn to natural fibers. Museum "best practices" suggest that textiles should not be on exhibit for longer than six months at a time. Small museums with volunteer collections organizations are hard-pressed to keep up with the work required to properly rotate exhibits.
In 2012 the timing was right for the volunteers and staff of the Animas Museum to put together a short term exhibit of some of the quilts in the Museum's collection. Financial support came from local quilt companies (Durango Quilt Company and Stitch) and the Colorado Quilting Council. Volunteers from the La Plata Quilt Guild started working on the exhibit in January. The exhibit was open from June through August of that year.
With the Museum closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seemed like a good time to share the Museum's quilt collection safely online. Please enjoy the quilts you see here. The images were taken in 2012 for documentation purposes. This was before the Museum had the photography setup we have today--camera, tripod, and lighting system.
Quilts, often called a great American art form, have been displayed in art museums across the country. While most are beautiful and showcase the artistic talents of the makers, quilts are also an important record of our history. In the 19th century when La Plata County came into being, practically every woman in the United States could sew. They were encouraged to do so rather than “…waste time scribbling or writing,” according to quilt authority Susan Roach. Because of this cultural attitude, women’s stories are frequently not found in books but in the textiles they created.
The Animas Museum has a collection of quilts that were made in or brought to La Plata County, many of which are included in this exhibit. Sadly, written records concerning the women who made these quilts and why they made them are few and far between. Therefore, these quilts stand as artworks in mute testimony to the history of the women who helped to build our county and the West.