On Display Now

To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions

On Display July 8th – September 30th, 2018

The beauty and traditions of Native quilting are celebrated in the exhibition!

To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions celebrates the history and diversity of quiltmaking in Native communities and pays tribute to the artists who continue to create within this expressive cultural tradition. The Stauth Memorial Museum is excited and honored to be hosting this exhibition! We feel very fortunate to be the only museum in Kansas chosen to host this amazing, historically important, quilt exhibit.

Of the various North American Indian art forms that resulted from contact with Euro-Americans, quiltmaking is perhaps the least well known. Quiltmaking in Native communities was first learned through contact with primarily Euro-Americans, who possessed commercially manufactured cloth and steel needles. Traders, missionaries, government agents and settlers all played roles in introducing quilting fabrics and techniques. It was not surprising that Native peoples — already skilled at similar craft forms such as fabricating tapa cloth and hide garments, and embroidering with porcupine quills and moose hair — became adept at quilting and began to use quilts for purposes unique to their own cultures.

Quilts have been used in nearly every Native community for everyday purposes such as bed coverings, shelter coverings, infant’s swing cradles, weather insulation, and providing a soft place to sit on the ground. In some communities, quilts play important roles in tribal ceremonies, such as in the honoring of individuals and as fund-raisers. Native quilters get their design ideas from many sources. Some quilters use the design motifs of their specific tribe or clan or use patterns and colors reflecting close spiritual ties to the natural world. This exhibit examines how quilts and quilting – the ceremonies surrounding them, the society of the artists who make them, and the passing on of traditions through quilts – bind neighbors and families within and across generations.

To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions includes 29 quilts from all over the country, including examples by Cherokee, Sioux, Navajo, Ojibway and Native Hawaiian quilters. Other components of the exhibit include hands-on activities, a listening station where visitors can listen to tape-recorded stories from some of the quilters, videos of quilting activities in two Native communities, and a series of panels with photographs and explanatory text.

Kansas quilts are also on display to enhance the exhibition and to showcase the talent and creativity of Kansas quilters.

BRIGHT STAR | by Paula White, Ojibwa | 1996 | Bena, MN

INDIAN BOYS AND GIRLS QUILT | by Tsali Manor Sr Sewing Club, Cherokee | c1990 | Cherokee, NC

Developed by Michigan State University Museum, To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions is based on an exhibition originally created by Michigan State University Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, in collaboration with Atlatl, Inc., a national service organization for Native American arts (Phoenix, AZ). A board of museum specialists working in both Native and non-Native museums across North America were instrumental in helping to design this version specifically created to tour to smaller museums, in particular, tribal museums and cultural centers.

A companion book is also available. To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions was edited by Marsha MacDowell and C. Kurt Dewhurst and published by the Museum of New Mexico Press in collaboration with Michigan State University Museum. Founded in 1857, the Michigan State University Museum is one of Michigan’s most popular natural and cultural history museums. The Michigan State University Museum’s Traveling Exhibition Service provides affordable exhibitions for museums and organizations both in and out of Michigan. Over two dozen traveling exhibits are available and represent a variety of Michigan’s natural and cultural resources.

Call 620-846-2527 for more information or to set up a tour for groups of 5 or more!
Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 9-12 & 1-4:30, Sunday 1:30-4:30. We are closed on Mondays and all major holidays. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted to help pay for the temporary and traveling exhibits we host each year!

Major funding for this exhibition was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund. Additional support was provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Pew Charitable Trust Gatherings and Conferences Program administered by the Fund for Folk Culture, Jeffrey and Kitty Cole, and the following MSU units: All-University Research Initiation Grant Program, Office of the Provost, and Native American Institute.