The Maine State Museum’s major new exhibition Maine Quilts: 250 Years of Comfort and Community has a new opening date of April 17, 2021 and will run through July 30, 2022, in Augusta. Originally scheduled to open this summer, according to a news release from Laurie LaBar, the exhibition’s curator.

“The key reason for the revised schedule is the same reason that many museum exhibitions have been delayed this year — the coronavirus pandemic,” said Maine State Museum Director Bernard Fishman, according to the release. “The pandemic has led to museum staff shortages, which have slowed our ability to complete necessary exhibition planning and construction work. In addition, we had originally planned to coordinate the exhibit opening with the annual Maine Quilts Show, held at the Augusta Civic Center by a primary supporter, the Pine Tree Quilters Guild. Because of the pandemic, the guild has canceled the show this year. We thought it would be best to have the museum exhibition open when thousands of quilt scholars, makers, and enthusiasts from throughout the region would be in Augusta to see it, and so moving it to next year made additional sense.”

To avoid light damage to the quilts’ fragile fabrics, the exhibition is planned as a two-part presentation. The first part will be from April 17, 2021 through mid-December 2021. The second will be from late December 2021 through July 2022. A different selection of quilts will be shown in each of the two presentations.

“Concerns about properly preserving the quilts and avoiding damaging light while the quilts are on exhibit inspired our two-part approach,” said LaBar, in the release. “An added benefit is that we will be able to show twice the number of quilts over the exhibition’s duration. At 80 stunning, colorful, and often quite rare quilts, this exhibition will be the largest showing of historic Maine quilts ever and will definitely be worth the wait through this period of delay.”

“For over 200 years, Maine women kept farms, businesses, and families together when men were at sea, at war, or in the woods,” continues LaBar. “The quilts they meticulously made are striking works of art and reveal information about how these women lived, the social networks that supported them, and the ways Maine changed through the years. Most Maine quilters were middle-class women, who are usually absent from historical records. The information we can glean from their quilts beautifully deepens and enriches the story of Maine’s past.”

Accompanying the exhibition will be a book by LaBar, “Maine Quilts: 250 Years of Comfort and Community,” co-published by the museum and Down East Books.

For more information about the museum and current and upcoming exhibitions and programs, see the museum’s website

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