Preparing the Keckley Quilt for Shipping

The Keckley Quilt is one of the pieces from our collection that we get the most questions about. For more information about the quilt see this earlier post. The quilt is currently on exhibition at the Indiana State Museum. In order to prepare the quilt to travel to Indiana, it required the coordinated efforts of several staff members. Because of the large size of the quilt and its poor condition we can’t bring it out for researchers and the general public who often inquire whether they might be able to see it. These pictures give a sense of the scale of the quilt and the attention demanded for its care and packing.

Our exhibition designer/preparator, Jim Williams made the crate specifically to hold the quilt for its travels. Before the quilt could be packed it was laid out on a table in our conservation lab, so that we could perform a condition report. An update to the condition report was performed when the quilt arrived in Indiana. This evaluation of the piece’s condition allows us to determine if the piece is deteriorating and also make sure that it has not been damaged during the course of its travels. After it was assessed, the entire quilt was covered in order to protect it as it is rolled. A large tube which had been covered with a protective barrier and muslin was laid over the quilt, which was rolled around it. The quilt has fringe edging all four sides which were carefully smoothed out to ensure that they lay flat before the quilt was rolled.

The quilt will be on exhibit at the Indiana State Museum through February 19, so we hope everyone who is interest is able to see it before the exhibition closes.

Sara Hume
Curator/Associate Professor

2 thoughts on “Preparing the Keckley Quilt for Shipping

  1. Hello. My mom and I just finished reading the book entitled Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker. Many items in the book caused me to do some looking online for more clarification. This quilt was one of them. I am disappointed that we have missed the exhibit for this! I would have loved for my mom and I to see this. Will it be on exhibit ever again? We live in Michigan so it wouldn’t be very far for us drive there. But even if there is an exhibit somewhere else it would be great to see it! Can it be preserved, and will I it ever go to the Smithsonian?
    Even if I don’t receive a response, thank you for all you do to preserve our history.
    Kristalinn Bouverette

    • Hello Kristalinn, We actually do have plans to exhibit the Keckley quilt. We are planning to include it in our upcoming exhibition of Ohio Quilts which will run from the end of July 2019 through April 2020. I hope you are able to make it here to see it.

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