Quilt Conservation at the Indiana State Museum

ISM8533conservationKitWebI joined some QGI members and other quilters at the Indiana State Museum on Saturday June 20th for a day learning about quilt conservation. We discussed cleaning, storage and repairs. We were each given a piece of an antique crazy quilt to practice repairing. We learned about the tools, procedures, and decisions, that Gaby Kienitz, Head of Conservation at Indian State Museum and Historic Sites, uses to care for quilts in the museum’s collection. The collection has over 700 quilts!

Gaby took us on a tour of her conservation lab. We saw quilts and other fiber objects she was preparing.


Gaby Kienitz in the conservation lab demonstrating vacuuming a quilt with very low suction.
Gaby Kienitz in the conservation lab demonstrating vacuuming a quilt with very low suction.
Gaby finding a small piece of batting from a participant's quilt for a fiber test.
Gaby finding a small piece of batting from a participant’s quilt for a fiber test.

We had show and tell to discuss our own personal quilts or quilt tops and how and if they should be repaired or maintained. We had one attendee bring a rare scarf medallion quilt. It was a treat to see and hear Gaby’s thoughts.  This scarf medallion quilt has a rare political scarf as the focal point.  There were holes and will need some well thought out conservation to preserve it for future generations.




ISM8547SchoolWebGaby was very knowledgeable and shared her knowledge freely. We walked out of the old school room (IPS #5: McCullach facade pictured on the right and below) with a packet of supplies and many pages of information and resources.

Does anyone else see quilt blocks in the school facade?

We ended up the session with a self-paced viewing of the 19 Stars: Quilts of Indiana’s Past and Present exhibit. Which includes 19 old quilts featuring stars and 19 new quilts based on stars. The old quilts range in date from 1830s to the 1980s. There were quilts by fellow QGI members. The range of quilts and styles was impressive and well curated by QGI member, Mary Jane Teeters-Eichacker. You can see an article at doingindy.com with nice pictures of the exhibit prep in the conservation lab here. You can volunteer to demonstrate quilting outside of the 19 Stars exhibit by contacting Jennifer Fulton.

Here is the whole class (well minus me because I took the picture) in the freight elevator.  My daughter loves that I have been in it, so I took this picture for her.  ~ by Barbara Triscari



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