Minnesota Historical Society M-Flame Logo

History Center Museum



State Historic Sites
National Register of Historic Places
Other Places
About MHSEvents & NewsLibrary & CollectionsMarketplaceMuseums & Historic PlacesPreserving Our PastSchool Resources

(Minnesota A to Z graphic)

Quilt finds a home in History Center

Did you stitch on this quilt?

The "Minnesota Lily Quilt" hangs against the red wall of the Johnson Classroom in the MacMillan Education Center in the Minnesota History Center as a symbol of the beautiful things that happen when the community and visitors get involved in gallery programs at the Minnesota History Center.

Hundreds of museum visitors took thousands of tiny stitches to create this quilt.

The "Minnesota Lily Quilt" was the first of four quilts completed in the two years of the Great Saturday Quilting Bee. Visiting quilt groups supervised by volunteer hosts demonstrated the art of hand quilting and invited visitors of all ages to join them around the quilt. Minnesota Lily Quilt

The Great Saturday Quilting Bee was a transplanting of a traditional quilting bee to the History Center. There, with a collection of quilts nearby in the "Q is for Quilts" display, six to eight volunteers stitched together on Saturdays twice a month.

Gallery visitors were fascinated by the quilting bees. "I'm impressed at how many men and children are interested," says volunteer quilt facilitator Jeannette Root, who has carried on her family tradition of quilt making ever since she was five years old. "We've had people sign our guest book from Nevada, California, Ohio and Denmark."

"It brings a personal element to the history of quilts," says quilter Jean Loken. Quilting groups that sponsored activities came from Buffalo, St. Paul, Anoka, Prior Lake, Marshall, Northfield, Stillwater, Rosemount, Dawson, Fairmount, New Hope, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Brooklyn Center, Eden Prairie and South St. Paul.

Gallery visitors often tried their hands at stitching. "There was one boy who looked so bored just watching, but when we put a needle in his hands, he was busily at it," says volunteer Dorothy Stish. "All kinds of children and young teens, both boys and girls, have enjoyed feeling the fabric, pushing a needle in and out, and looking at the quilt design. Some kids have sat down at the quilt and didnt want to leave."

Volunteer quilt facilitators were Stish, Gail Bakkom, Karen Benson, Wilma Gary, Jean Humenansky, Zeeda Magnusson, Mary Lou Murray, Debra Newman, Judy Purman, Jeannette Root, Judy Sears and Lou Walker-Thompson. Volunteer quilt facilitators from the Minnesota Quilt Project served as hostesses to the visiting quilting groups from around the state. The bees were part of the Society's new initiative to reach volunteers in towns outside of the Twin Cities.

To accommodate the king-sized quilt in the gallery, some modifications were necessary. The lighting was improved, and a special suspension system installed for the "Minnesota Lily."

"At the end of each quilting day, the quilt was raised to the gallery ceiling with pulleys and lines," says program developer Marsha Knittig. "This is the way quilts were stored in pioneer days."

Knittig appreciates the generosity of spirit that has made the quilting bees possible. "This has been a shared project with the quilters of Minnesota," she says. "Most elements — from the materials and labor for the quilt top to the quilt frame — were donated by members of the quilting community."

quilting bee

The "Minnesota Lily" took shape during a Great Saturday Quilting Bee.

The best time to view the quilt is after 2:30 in the afternoon, because the Johnson Classroom is often busy with student groups and meetings earlier in the day.

[Q is for Quilts] - [Quilting Bees]

[Minnesota A to Z]