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Album Quilt

Dozens of colorful fabrics, thousands of tiny stitches, and the hands of many women created the beautiful quilt you see here.

Handmade quilts were valued household items in 18th- and 19th-century America, providing both warmth and beauty. This quilt was not meant to keep anyone warm, however. It was made to display the talent of the women who sewed it and to be an admired gift, decorated with emblems of friendship and civic pride.

United States
Baltimore Album Quilt, c. 1825-50
Cotton; appliqué
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Gift of Stanley H. Brackett in memory of Lois Martin Brackett

Fashion and Friendship
Piecing It Together
A Virtuous Message

Interactive Learning Stations: Learn more about the Baltimore album quilt and see other examples of textile artwork at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts by visiting the interactive learning station “Material Witnesses: Textiles at the MIA.” Hear a quilt artist talk about the Baltimore album quilt, see other quilt styles, and even create your own quilt. “Material Witnesses” interactive learning stations can be found in galleries 281 and 310 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Interactive activities are also available in the Family Center at the MIA. Check out “Fabric Factory,” another fun tool for learning and playing. The Family Center is located in the museum’s first floor lobby.  

The Art of the Album: In the 1840s, making album books and album quilts was a way to record memories and save small tokens of friendship. What kinds of albums do people keep and cherish today? Write an essay explaining how today’s albums are like or unlike the album quilts of the 1800s.  

A Stitch in Time: Learn more about the history of Baltimore album quilts from the Maryland Historical Society’s Online Quilt Tour.  

Quilt Language: The Baltimore album quilt at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts contains many symbols of friendship and love. Research other symbols or come up with some of your own that communicate these ideas. Draw your symbol on a square piece of paper. Sign the square and add a message of friendship or love. The squares you and your classmates create can be assembled into a classroom “album quilt” for display.  

Quilt Collection: Use the Art Collector feature of ArtsConnectEd to view a collection of quilts. Click here to access the collection. Click here to learn more about Art Collector.  

January 2009