The American experience includes many stories, many artifacts. One item that consistently appears in every generation is the quilt.
This item of practicality, comfort and artistic talent appears in the items handed down by every generation of Americans for the last 400 years. Even two of my (multiple) great-grandfathers arrived in the New World with quilts when they stepped off the Mayflower.
This summer the Folsom History Museum will share how quilts from the past inspire the quilters of today. “Then and Now” is the museum’s 32nd annual Antique Quilt and Vintage Clothing Exhibit.
“The quilts this year area visual delights showcasing antique quilts in their traditional patterns alongside their contemporary interpretations,” said Melissa Pedroza, education coordinator for the museum. “The ‘Now’ quilts include quilts from artists Anelie Belden, Christine Barnes, Melinda Bula and Cara Gulati.”
There are some 50 items in this year’s show. Vintage quilts are displayed alongside the newer quilts. It is fascinating to see how modern quilters can interpret a historical design to create entirely new looks. Equally fascinating to me was to see a modern quilt that looked like a vintage quilt. The only give-away was the machine quilting — the artist used reproduction fabrics which fooled me at first.
There is a quilt for everyone in this show …r ight down to the quilts families use in everyday life.
“My grandmother always told me there are three types of quilts,” said Ann Barrow, quilt curator for the Folsom History Museum. “There are the heirloom quilts, the quilts you use and the bunkhouse quilts.”
The bunkhouse quilts are campy and fun. I remember quilts like these in many a rented ski lodge at Bear Valley. They are the kind that you use, but you really wouldn’t display them too often. Off to the lodge they go!
The vintage clothing exhibit features “then” and “now” clothing items: swimsuits, wedding gowns, nurses’ attire and more.
A very special item, on loan from Levis Straus & Co., is a pair of original 501 jeans from 1910. Valued at more than $15,000, these jeans are an important historical artifact. In the case with the jeans is a pair of child’s Levis overalls — also from 1910 — that is the property of the museum. Both items are in remarkable condition and well worth seeing. Modern examples of Levis are also on display.
Also on display in the museum this summer is a smaller exhibit called “Quilts of Valor.” This exhibit will feature patriotic quilts and vintage military uniforms.
There is a lot to see. Men’s working clothes are also on display, and the museum gift shop will have vintage quilts available for purchase as well.
Hundreds of hours are dedicated by the volunteers at the Folsom History Museum to make this show a success every summer. Since this event’s founding by Lenore Dean and Leslie Kemp, this show has grown from just a dozen items a year to more than 50 quilts every year.
Today, the FHM Antique Quilt and Vintage Fashion Show is a well-established event that brings in visitors from throughout the region and the western United States.
The Folsom History Museum does not receive any funding from public tax dollars and has no advertising budget. As a nonprofit organization, it relies on the goodwill of the community to support it. If you can, drop an extra buck or two off when you visit. Your contribution will help to ensure that this valuable resource continues to be available to everyone.
The Folsom History Museum is located at 823 Sutter Street in Old Town Folsom. “Then and Now: the 32nd annual Antique Quilt and Vintage Clothing Exhibit runs through Sept. 2. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for teens. Children younger than 12 and Folsom Historical Society members are free.
For more information call (916) 985-2707 or visit www.folsomhistorymuseum.org.
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