December 17, 2018

The Virginia Quilt Museum: Preserving an Art Form in Harrisonburg, Va

On a recent day trip to Harrisonburg, Virginia, I had the opportunity to visit the Virginia Quilt Museum. Established in 1995, this nonprofit venue is staffed by volunteers and funded through a fiscal medley of admissions, memberships, fees, grants, fund-raising events and donations.

Housed in the historic Warren-Sipe House built in 1865, the Virginia Quilt Museum provides visitors a chance to view a variety of permanent and rotating exhibits.

Permanent collections include a number of rare quilts from the Civil War era, a collection of antique sewing machines and an assortment of historic stitching tools. While the adult and child-sized sewing machines remain displayed throughout the museum and in their special upstairs gallery, the permanent Civil War quilting collection is rotated in segments every six months. It features the women of the Civil war era, their quilts and their stories as a unique way for tourists to experience Civil War history in the greater Harrisonburg, Virginia area.

One of the things that impressed me the most about the folks at the Virginia Quilt Museum was the way they are acknowledging how this historic art form is still being incorporated and preserved by the fabric artists and modern quilters of today. Indeed, the other major exhibit that was on display during my visit was a collection of works by a single artist whose pieces struck a whimsical balance between modern and iconic. With pieces honoring everything from the famed Route 66 to the Chiquita Banana girl, diversity definitely prevailed.

How can you show support for the Virginia Quilt Museum?

Well, a visit is always a great idea. Whether you are taking a group of students on a class fieldtrip, or making it part of your girlsí getaway, a visit to the museum will help ensure that its mission is being achieved. Thereís also a precious little gift shop on site which offers tapestry-quilted journals, ornament kits and a variety of other sundries, souvenirs and quilting-related gifts.

Three times each year, the Virginia Quilt Museum hosts a full English tea with tickets costing roughly $20. Seating is limited to 48 persons for each event, and dateís are available on the museumís web site. †The organization also has silent auctions, where individuals donate quilt items for bidding as an additional fundraiser.

Finally, you could always provide a quilt for the permanent collection. If you have a Virginia quilt that would enhance the museumís collection, consider donating it so that others might enjoy the piece. Itís a win-win way to preserve your quilt and support what the Virginia Quilt Museum is trying to accomplish.

Editor’s Note: A visit to this museum pairs nicely with the downtown’s historical walking tour, followed by lunch at Union Station and a visit to the nearby White Oak Lavender Farm. If you’re looking for additional things to do in Harrisonburg, Virginia, consider visiting Shenandoah National Park or checking out the CrossKeys Vineyards.

Photo Credits: Trek Hound – Additional pictures of the Virginia Quilt Museum are available for online creative commons content use in exchange for a link back to the photo gallery on our sister site, Pictures of Travel Places.