The National Quilt Museum Celebrates 25 Years of Serving the Quilting Community
PADUCAH, Ky., Jan. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Since the first visitors entered its galleries 25 years ago, The National Quilt Museum has seen continuous and steady growth. The museum is now a global destination for quilters annually welcoming visitors from all 50 US states and over 40 foreign countries.
Through the museum’s in-facility and traveling exhibits, educational programs, and advocacy efforts, the museum has introduced millions of people to the work of today’s quilters and fiber artists. National Quilt Museum CEO Frank Bennett says, “The work of today’s quilter is extraordinary art and we want everyone worldwide to experience it firsthand.”
The National Quilt Museum was founded by quilt enthusiasts Bill and Meredith Schroeder. They aimed to create a facility that honored the work of today’s quilter. As long-time residents, they chose Paducah as the museum’s home. The $2.2 million, 27,000 square foot museum is located in historic downtown Paducah, just two blocks from the Ohio River. Upon its grand opening, The National Quilt Museum consisted of 85 total quilts. Now the museum collection has over 530 quilts and continues to grow. In addition to the museum’s own collection, it also features temporary exhibits that change throughout the year.
While the museum has seen steady growth since it opened, over the last five years in particular it has seen a significant rise in visitors. “Much of our growth is thanks to word of mouth,” explains Bennett. “People visit and marvel at what we’ve assembled, and then tell others that the museum is a must-see destination. We have also received significant media exposure over the last few years.” In addition to word of mouth and media attention, the museum is among the highest rated tourist attractions on TripAdvisor, having won the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence four consecutive years.
The National Quilt Museum hosts about 8 to 10 unique in-facility exhibits per year, giving repeat visitors a new experience each time they walk into its galleries. In addition, the museum’s traveling exhibits are seen at museums and events nationwide. Recent traveling exhibits have been seen in the Shafer Memorial Art Gallery, the Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum, and the Branigan Cultural Center, among others.
Over 4,000 youth from kindergarten through high school annually participate in museum educational programs. Programs include Quilt Camp, Kidz Day in the Arts, Junior Quilters, and Textile Artists Club, as well as many on-site programs for schools and community organizations. One of the most well known museum youth programs is the School Block Challenge, sponsored by Moda Fabrics. The School Block Challenge is an annual contest in which participants are challenged to make a quilt block incorporating a packet of three fabrics. Now in its 25th year, over 500 youth of all ages from over 20 states participated in this year’s School Block Challenge.
Many of these programs fill in where traditional school based art programs have seen budget reductions or simply been cut completely from the curriculum. Many programs are completely free to users and others have minimal cost.
The National Quilt Museum is primarily funded through the generosity of those passionate about quilting. The museum does receive some government funding, but it makes up less than 20% of its total budget. “We are excited about the future. We plan to continue growing and introducing millions more people to the work to today’s quilters, but we can only grow as fast as our budget allows. We need everyone passionate about quilting to be involved,” Bennett stated.
The National Quilt Museum is located in Historic Paducah, KY, a UNESCO Creative City. Official address: 215 Jefferson Street, Paducah, KY 42001. Website address: www.quiltmuseum.org.
Amanda Ball, Marketing Director
National Quilt Museum