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A Visit to the Texas Quilt Museum

A Visit to the Texas Quilt Museum

By Janelle Cahoon, Quiltcentric

My husband and I recently drove to La Grange, Texas to visit the Texas Quilt Museum and see their latest show, “Texas Quilts Today (Part 3) Selections From the Book Lone Stars III.”

This was our first visit to the museum, which had its grand opening in November, 2011, and we had a wonderful time.

 

A bit about the museum

Co-founders of the museum, Karey Patterson Bresenhan and Nancy O’Bryant Puentes, are both co-founders of the International Quilt Association and executives of Quilts, Inc., the producers of the world-famous International Quilt Festival held annually in Houston. They are also cousins and fifth-generation quilters.

As the museum’s brochure explained, these founders wanted to establish a museum “where even more people could discover and appreciate quilts in a setting that showcased them for longer periods” than possible during the run of a single show.

The museum is housed in two beautifully-restored 1893 buildings just off the Courthouse square in downtown La Grange. As you arrive, be sure to check out the period garden and fantastic outdoor mural of quilts on the west side of the museum.

As you step inside, your eyes are immediately drawn down the long central gallery with its beautiful arched window and the amazing quilts displayed on the walls and above the second-story railings of the museum.

Nancy Puentes explained that ultraviolet filters are installed on the museum’s lights and windows for the protection of the quilts.

The abundance of natural light in the museum is unusual among the museums I’ve visited, and I felt it added a lot to my enjoyment of the museum – as we all know, natural light shows the true colors of fabrics, and I felt like I was seeing the quilts in a way that their creators would also have appreciated. But I also think it contributed to the feeling of warmth and friendliness within the museum.

This is a museum where visitors comfortably chat to one another about the quilts on display, and where employees are happy to spend a few minutes talking to visitors about the museum and its creation, about the exhibits or about their own current quilting projects.

I had the pleasure of talking to Wilma Hart, Quilts, Inc. VP of Corporate Projects, and Vicki Mangum, International Quilt Festival Corporate Collection Liaison. They discussed the two-year restoration of the buildings and the success of the museum even in this first year of operation. It has already become a destination for bus tours and has been visited by quilt enthusiasts from as far away as Europe and Asia. They expect attendance to increase even more next fall as people stop by on their way to or from the International Quilt Festival in Houston, just an hour and a half away.

So what about the quilts?

The current exhibit features quilts made by Texans from 1986 – 2011. 

The quilts run the gamut in styles and techniques – from Jacobean-style appliqué to traditionally-pieced to art quilts. They are large and small, bold and subtle, traditional and made with unusual techniques. But what they all were was simply amazing!

Many of these quilts were award-winners from major shows; many were familiar from photos in quilt magazine “best of show” summaries. But you don’t know these quilts until you see them up close and personal.

I spent a long time examining them: Up close, then far away, then up close to see the details again. Absolutely amazing.

And that’s another of the great things about a quilt museum; I could never do that at a quilt show where it’s too crowded to move freely and where I feel I have to “move along” and not block anyone else’s view or progress.

I’ve been quilting almost all my life, I consider myself an accomplished quilter, and I’ve attended many, many shows but I was still wowed by the quilts in this exhibit. And I think you will be too. Whatever your personal style of quilting, this exhibit has quilts that will amaze and inspire you, and maybe even challenge you to move in a new direction.

At least from my own viewpoint, the founders’ vision has been achieved!

The current exhibit will be on display until Sept. 30, 2012, and the next one, “Celebrating Great Quilts! Antique Quilts from the International Quilt Festival Collection” will open Oct. 4. I intend to return for that one, too!

Check out the Museum’s website: http://www.texasquiltmuseum.org/txqm2/home.html for the latest exhibit info and hours of operation. At this time they are open Thurs. – Sat. 10am – 4pm and Sundays noon – 4pm.

 

Before leaving La Grange, my husband and I stopped for lunch at Bistro 108 at 108 S. Main, just off the Courthouse square and only a couple of blocks from the Quilt Museum. We had a lunch of a fresh and delicious salad and sandwich, and a truly wonderful shrimp and crawfish bisque that was probably the best soup I’ve ever eaten. Not a paid ad, no affiliation, etc, just a recommendation for a great place to eat when you’re in La Grange.

Happy quilting!

Janelle

Have you been to a great quilt show or exhibit recently? Write about it and send me your article through the Contact link at the top of the page. Thanks!

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