Piece by Piece

Quilts from the permanent collection of the McKissick Museum

Palmetto block from Civil War-themed sampler quilt by Mary Acken, 2015, Camden, SC.
Photo by Sarah Bryan

McKissick & Quilts

The McKissick Museum collection includes over two hundred quilts, featuring examples of appliquéd, whole cloth, and pieced works from the Southeast. Since the 1980s, McKissick has documented and celebrated quilting traditions, produced several publications, and developed programs exploring the topic. The quilts in this exhibition illustrate the evolution of this textile tradition over the past two hundred years. From the early use of chintz fabrics to the widespread popularity of solid colors, these quilts reflect traditions with roots in Europe, Africa, and the American South.

Quilting traditions in the Southeast were not uniform. Quilters were influenced by geographic, economic, and cultural circumstances. Many of the quilts displayed here illustrate characteristics distinctive to individual makers, while others reflect the influence of popular styles and trends. Quilts are as varied and diverse as the women and men who make them. They can evoke powerful memories and provide tangible connections to loved ones or specific events. More important, makers often use quilts to express social commentary, communicate personal narratives, or document family or community history.

Palmetto block from Civil War-themed sampler quilt by Mary Acken, 2015, Camden, SC.
Photo by Sarah Bryan

Maker’s Voice

Quilts provide a means for personal expression and communal interaction. Countless references in 19th century newspapers illustrate how quilts were used to share life’s joys, pains, struggles, and accomplishments.

View Details

Detail of a Crazy Quilt by Mittie Belle Agner Barrier  showing farm/Easter  themes.

The Crazy Quilt

The 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia was a momentous event in American society. Attended by over ten million people, one of the most popular exhibits featured Japanese ceramics and abstract art.

View Details

Southern Quilts

In the 18th century, textiles were the most common import in Charleston, the largest southern port in America. Despite the availability of these materials, trade routes leading inland to the piedmont of the Carolinas and Georgia were undeveloped and travel was slow.

View Details

The Quilt History Project

The South Carolina Quilt History Project, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, was one of the most ambitious research projects undertaken by McKissick Museum. From 1983 to 1986, project staff conducted public “quilt sharing days” in selected locations across the state.

View Details

Highlights from the collection

Yellow, Green, And Red Rose Of Saron Pattern Quilt

Wisdom 11 “To Thee I Give You Our Past”
Peggie Hartwell
Summerville, SC
Gift of Peggie Hartwell 

Patchwork Columbia Bicentennial Quilt

Log Cabin Variation
Carol Zimmerman Cleveland (1848-1899)
Spartanburg County, SC
Gift of Mary Poole

Crazy Quilt On Blue Background

Harvest Sun
Attributed to Hattie Mitchell (1877-1974)
Barnwell County, SC
Gift of Frances Grilliland

Share This