Museum to open with special quilt exhibit

A one-of-a-kind opportunity comes to Pagosa Springs this summer when the historical society museum opens for the season on Tuesday, May 12.

New for this season is a special exhibit “Quilts from the Trunk of Cindy Vermillion Hamilton.”

Hamilton is an expert quilter, having won many prestigious awards in the quilting community. She is also a quilt historian, studying the history of quilting for about 30 years. Part of her study has included the collection of numerous antique quilts. Over 30 of her collected quilts dating from 1843 through the 1960s will be on display in this special exhibit.

In creating the exhibit, Hamilton selected quilts representing a wide variety of time periods, styles and patterns. She took care to select Depression-era quilts as well as ones from later time periods that visitors could relate to.

“In my collecting, I am drawn to circular sunburst, compass and sunflower designs; unusual folk-art examples and finely quilted pieces with unusual quilting designs,” says Hamilton. “English medallion quilts are of special interest to me because they show origins of the American quilting traditions in surface patterns and quilting motifs.”

Civil War Sunburst

A portion of the display will be housed in the old stone building, which once housed the waterwheel that pushed water through the town’s water system.

One of the quilts that will be display against these beautiful stone walls that from 1938 will be the Civil War Sunburst. The fabrics in this quilt date from before the Civil War. The quilt is pieced in a sunburst pattern, which is one of the earliest patterns used in American quilts.

Hamilton writes of this quilt, “The circular blocks are pieced into background blocks which are cut in the shape of a square with quarter circles cut out of each corner. This results in a ground without seams going through the middle. Piecing the blocks in this manner is much more difficult than simply making them square. Older quilts in this design are frequently pieced this way, helping the quilt historian date the work. The backing of this beauty is a plaid, possibly hand woven, and may indicate a Southern origin.”

Free admission

This summer, there will be no admission fee at the museum. The board of directors is making this offer to encourage more people to attend this unique exhibit and also take advantage of all of the interesting artifacts from Archuleta County’s history.

Voluntary donations will gladly be accepted to defray operating expenses.

The San Juan Historical Society Museum is located at the corner of U.S. 160 and 1st Street on the eastern end of Pagosa Springs. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Opening date for this season is May 12, closing date Sept. 19.

Be sure to take advantage of this special opportunity to visit Pagosa Springs’ own museum.