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American quilt from the 1840s  (TRC 2018.3119), displayed at the exhibition The American Quilt, at the TRC. 5 Febr. - 28 May 2020. For more information, please click on the illustration.American quilt from the 1840s (TRC 2018.3119), displayed at the exhibition The American Quilt, at the TRC. 5 Febr. - 28 May 2020. For more information, please click on the illustration.A quintessential feature of many American homes is a bed covering, more generally known as a quilt. It has featured in many films, books and stories about rural and urban life in the USA. As part of the Mayflower 400 Year, commemorating the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers in America in 1620, having lived in Leiden for some ten years previously, the TRC Leiden is presenting an exhibition that explores the history, meaning and making of these colourful objects over the last 200 years.

The exhibition includes examples from before the American Civil War (1861-1865), the late Victorian era, the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the Revival of the quilt craft in the 1970s.

There is a Crazy Quilt from Minnesota made in 1890s (TRC 2019.2925), and another quilt from the late nineteenth century that contains an even older example. There is also a Native American Indian quilt (early twentieth century; TRC 2019.2041), an African-American example (1930s) and a glorious appliqué quilt from a grand house in the USA (1860s; TRC 2019.2402).

For a photographic impression, please click here.

The exhibition looks at various questions, ranging from what is a quilt, how are they made, the range of blocks, and other techniques (both hand and machine forms) that are used to create the wide range of varied and often colourful designs.

And with the aid of some selected quilts, the exhibition also reflects on economic, religious, political and social changes in the USA, as well as on the role of women in the home and workplace and even on the question ‘What is Art’. 

The TRC houses one of the largest American quilt collections in Europe, and many of the examples will be on display, together with quilt tops, blocks, materials, equipment and related items. These all act as a source of information and inspiration.

The exhibition is co-curated by the quilt historian, Susan Cave, and by Beverley Bennett, who has won various prizes for her amazing quilts in a wide range of techniques.

The exhibition is open to the public from Thursday 6 February until 27 August. Entrance is free, but voluntary donations are appreciated. The TRC is open from Monday to Thursday, from 10.00 – 16.00. The TRC is located at the Hogewoerd 164, Leiden. For more information, see the TRC website.

For a brief impression of the opening, on the 5th February, see the blog.

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Hogewoerd 164
2311 HW Leiden.
Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 /
+31 (0)6 28830428  

The TRC is open again from Tuesday, 2nd June, but by appointment only.

Bank account number:
NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59,
Stichting Textile Research Centre

TRC Gallery exhibition:
5 Febr. -27 August 2020: American Quilts

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The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Stichting Textile Research Centre.
Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
Financial donations to the TRC can also be made via Paypal: