Saturday, September 16, 2017

Area Attractions: San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles have some new exhibits: the 13th Quilt Nihon Exhibition (featuring a one-day Japanese Handicraft Festival on Sunday, October 8 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.), Linear Intervention: Sabine Reckewell and Artful Basketry: Beyond Traditions. The exhibits run now – October 15, 2017. Museum Hours: 11:00am-4:00pm Wednesday through Friday 11:00am-3:00pm Saturday and Sunday Closed Mondays, Tuesdays and major holidays.

The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles is located at 520 South 1st St. San Jose, CA 95113. Admission is $8.00 general; $6.50 students and seniors; and free to Museum members and children 12 and under. Admission is ‘pay what you can’ on the first Friday of each month. For more information, call 408-971-0323 or visit
I had a chance to interview the museum to learn more.

Why is the museum important, even for people who may not think they're interested in quilts and textiles?

Historically, textile work and quilt making in particular, were often considered “women’s work” and not given the status they frequently deserved.  This museum is dedicated to promoting, celebrating and preserving the art and artistry of quilts and textiles. Through our exhibitions, educational programs, and publications, we can tell the story of quilt making and textiles from around the world, and by exhibiting contemporary artists working in the medium, we can illustrate how textiles continue to be relevant in today’s art world.  Our permanent collection of over 1400 preserves these remarkable works for future generations to study and enjoy.

We like to think of ourselves as an art museum that exhibits textile and fiber art from around the world, both historic, contemporary.  Anyone interested in art will find inspiration in our galleries. People who haven’t been to the museum think they will see their grandmother’s quilts here; you might occasionally see a few, but you will also see contemporary textiles and fiber art. Most of our first time visitors exclaim, “Wow! THIS is NOT what I expected to see here!”  I consider it a success if we continue to surprise our visitors with our exhibits, programs and Artists in Residence.

What are some of the permanent opportunities and exhibits the museum offers?

We ALWAYS have opportunities for volunteers. We rely heavily on volunteer help to install our exhibitions and maintain our permanent collection.

We don’t have permanent exhibits. By nature, textiles can be fragile and susceptible to damage by prolonged exposure to light. Our permanent collection is stored in a climate-controlled area.  We use the collection for exhibitions but we also form partnerships with other organizations so we can have a broader range of artwork on display.  Check out our website for current and upcoming exhibits.

We also have a robust school program. Each week during the school year the galleries are often filled with school groups learning about quilts and textiles.  After a docent tour, they go to our Maker Space where they learn math, history, science and art through a textile related project.

How are special exhibitions chosen and created? (answer adapted from an article for the Studio At Quilt Association's Journal)
It starts with an exhibitions policy or plan. When evaluating exhibitions, all committees ask themselves:  Does it meet the mission and exhibition plan?  Is the work of the highest quality and aesthetic?  Is there a compelling theme? Who is the audience for the exhibit? Museums depend heavily on income from attendance—admission fees, potential donors and members, and store shoppers—and exhibition choices often reflect this need. 

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