Traveling Exhibits

The National Quilt Museum is pleased to offer quality quilt exhibits available to travel. Museums and galleries interested in these exhibits should contact the Museum's Curator of Collections Judy Schwender at or 270-442-8856.

Blending the Old and the New:
Quilts by Paul D. Pilgrim

Blending the Old & the New: Quilts by Paul D. Pilgrim was developed by The National Quilt Museum as a tribute to quiltmaker and quilt collector Paul D. Pilgrim of Oakland, CA, who died of cancer in November 1996. This exhibit is being traveled to Museums around the country.

Paul Pilgrim, together with Gerald E. Roy, played an important role in the development of The National Quilt Museum. Pilgrim/Roy assisted with the interior design of the building, loaned many beautiful quilts from their extensive antique collection and assisted with the exhibit design for many important Museum exhibits.

In partnership for 33 years with Gerald E. Roy in Pilgrim Roy Antiques & Interiors (San Francisco and Oakland), Pilgrim developed one of the foremost collections of antique quilts in the country. As they traveled around the country purchasing quilts and other antiques for their business and their own collection, Pilgrim found he just couldn't leave behind many of the stacks of "orphan blocks" he found in shops--the quilt blocks that had been completed but had never found their way into any quilt.

Among his many other talents, Pilgrim was a quiltmaker. He began making the "orphan blocks" he acquired into quilts, coming up with some wild and wonderful combinations of new and old.

How does nourishment in first world countries compare to that in the developing world? Do we have the luxury of exalting the alluring and sumptuous on special occasions? Or is one simple meal each day reason enough to celebrate? Often, we admire what appear to be simple ways of processing food and eschew the industrialized food industry. But is a seemingly idyllic image actually pointing out a resource divide indicative of the many around the world who live at a subsistence level? Can food production keep up with population growth, and how does that affect food quality? Solutions require expanding the way we think about food, be it focused on production, distribution, or consumption. Artists have a part in highlighting the growing concern about the current trajectory of life on earth and therefore about the value of food and thus life itself.

Exploring this exhibit for themes and variation, comparison and contrast, for the bounty of color, design, and concept, will undoubtedly enrich and inspire viewers. It’s an exhibition of wonderful artworks that approach a theme that everyone can relate to from a variety of different perspectives.

Exhibit curator Gerald E. Roy comments on his partner's quiltmaking: "After completing a quilt from blocks left by his grandmother, he stretched the custom of using inherited pieces to include many unfinished projects from former unrelated generations. Convinced he was not only preserving by completion, but celebrating the efforts of anonymous quiltmakers from the past, he began incorporating antique blocks and fabrics into his own work."

Quilt blocks from the 19th and 20th centuries are found in the 29 fascinating quilts of this exhibit. A sampler quilt boldly combines contemporary fabrics with a wide range of c.1860-1880 blocks Paul had collected over a five-year period in Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Kentucky. Text with each quilt in the exhibit indicates the source and dates of various blocks and fabrics, as well as information about Paul's inspiration and thoughts on the design. With their labeling, these quilts become a wonderful compendium of textile and block design history.

Through his quilts Pilgrim's humor, artistry and his great love for antiques can be enjoyed for many years to come.