Crazy Quilts: Art in Pieces

March 4 - July 30, 2017

Crazy Quilts: Art in Pieces features the most extraordinary Victorian-era quilts from the Museum’s collection. Opening March 4 in the Museum of Art galleries in Fountain Elms, the exhibition includes elabroate quilts that boast intricate
patterns of luxurious fabrics accented by flamboyant

Crazy quilts, far more decorative than useful, are quintessential Victorian-era textiles that decorated beds, tables, settees, and even mantles. While the patterns of crazy quilts are meant to look random, as the name implies, the quilts are actually carefully pieced together artworks—time capsules that relate stories of the maker and her community. Crazy quilts, whose generic title comes from their resemblance to a “crazed” or cracked surface, gained popularity in America in the 1860s, and the rage for crazy quilts reached its pinnacle in the late 1890s and early 20th century.

Each crazy quilt is an elaborate canvas. Quilters join edges of irregularly shaped pieces of silk and rich velvets with fancy stitches, then enhance the textiles with small paintings, fancy embroidery, and appliqués. These works created by individuals, social clubs, or organizations often function as albums and community records, displaying embroidered names, dates, and images of significance, along with political ribbons, shop labels, and commemorative badges.

Art in Pieces includes several loans from other museums and private collections, tracing the history of crazy quilts from the 19th century to today. Because of their fragility, these quilts are rarely on view. Enjoy this exceptional opportunity to explore the striking art and history of the crazy quilt. The exhibition is on view through July 30.

Exhibition Programs

MA N0124.1957 Large 20
Crazy Quilts: Art in Pieces

Free and open to the public

Drop in between 1:30 to 4 p.m., for a hands-on, close-up look at a variety of historic quilts. Using conservators’ gloves and magnifying glasses, examine a quilter’s detailed work while learning about the history of these textile arts.

  • Sunday, April 23, 2017, 1:30 pm - 4 pm

New York State Council on the Arts with the support of
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.