San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Quilts and textiles

The mission of the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles is to promote the art, craft, and history of quilts and textiles.

Textile art transcends cultural, ethnic, age, and gender boundaries and encompasses traditional as well as contemporary forms.  The museum provides a serious venue for all artists working with textiles, filling a void left by larger institutions with a narrower view of what defines artistic expression.  Its exhibits and programs promote the appreciation of quilts and textiles as art and provide an understanding of their role in the lives of their makers, in cultural traditions, and as historical documents.  The museum was founding in 1977 by the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association as the first museum of its kind in the United States.

In 2007, the museum received a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program to support their Weavings of War: Fabrics of Memory traveling exhibit.  The exhibit highlighted textiles created by people in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Chile, Peru, Israel, Egypt, the Caucasus, and South Africa who have begun incorporating pictorial images of violence and war into traditional art forms that previously included mostly abstract patterns.  The museum worked with local social service agencies and cultural organizations to plan and implement a series of public programs in connection with this exhibit, including artists demonstrations, performances, and panel discussions on the vital role of folk arts and how people respond to and cope with experiences of war.

As a participant in ACTA’s Traditional Arts Development Program in 2002, the museum completed a needs assessment and documentation of traditional skills among members of San Jose-area refugee communities by Musa Kamara, Director of the African Refugree Community Serives.  The project is a first step in the creation of a Tech-Style Arts Apprenticeship Program to help Santa Clara County refugees adapt their traditional needle and fiber art skills to a contemporary Bay Area market and ease their transition into life in the Silicon Valley by introducing them to computerized sewing machines, quilting machines, and looms.