11.13.11: A History Making Day

Making Quilt History: Texas Quilt Museum Opening

I am not sure if you know this, but the Texas Quilt Museum opened last Sunday in La Grange, TX.

What? You haven’t heard the news?

I can’t believe it.

Where have you been—living under a pin cushion?

Well, I’m here to tell you—this is BIG big news. I mean REALLY BIG news. It’s history making news in fact.

Why is this such big news? Here’s why. The Texas Quilt Museum is the only quilt museum in Texas and it’s right at my back door. It’s actually an hour and a half from my back door, but by Texas standards, we’re practically next door neighbors. If they put a freshly baked apple pie on their window sill, I’d be able to smell it. Yep, we’re that close. Yea!

I heard about the museum coming to La Grange last year and have sorta, kinda, not-so-patiently waited for it to open. As I immersed myself in this year’s Quilt Festival offerings, I learned that the museum was going to have its official grand opening on Sunday, November 13th at 1:00 p.m.

Because I love all things quilt related and the yard work could wait another day, I made plans to be there and take part in the celebration. Since I knew most of you wouldn’t able to attend this momentous occasion, I decided to bring the Magic Camera and cover the event for you. (You can thank me later. Did I mention that I love cheesecake?)

Okay, are you ready? Here we go . . .

I arrive in downtown La Grange around 12:30 and am pleasantly surprised to see the streets packed with people. Excitement and anticipation fill the air as I get closer to the museum. It appears that I’m not the only one anxious to see what the museum looks like.

As I round the corner I see a large crowd of quilters, supportive family members and many city officials. Music, animated conversations and lots and lots of laughter fill the street in front of the museum. People are milling around, exploring the garden and commenting on the quilt mural as we anxiously wait for the clock to strike one.

At precisely one o’clock, the ceremony begins with a warm welcome from Karey Patterson Bresenhan. Karey is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the museum. She and Co-founder, Co-Director Nancy O’Bryant Puentes are titans in the quilt industry.

Karey and Nancy are best known for establishing the International Quilt Festival and the International Quilt Association. As every quilter knows, these two organizations have changed the face of quilting and I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to these two women.

Many of the amazing fabrics and tools we have access to today would not be available if it weren’t for them. Karey and Nancy have worked tirelessly to promote quilting as an art form. Their ongoing efforts have helped elevate quilting as an artistic medium. Now they have established a museum to showcase this historic and very diverse art. They are true pioneers and visionaries and we are all reaping the rewards of their efforts.

The Texas Quilt Museum is another shining example of their influence. No longer will you have to go to Lincoln, NE or Paducah, KY to see museum quality textile exhibits. You’ll be able to see them in a quaint Texas town named La Grange.

With her usual flair and warm southern charm Karey welcomes friends, guests, visitors and local dignitaries to the opening.

Karey Patterson Bresenhan speaking at opening of museum.

Museum Co-founder and Co-Director Karey Patterson Bresenhan welcomes visitors and guests on this historic day.

Karey gives us a little insight into the challenges and triumphs associated with creating this special place. After acknowledging a variety of contractors, planners, architects and city officials, she graciously passes the microphone to Nancy.

Nancy O’Bryant Puentes speaking at opening of museum.

Co-founder and Co-Director Nancy O’Bryant Puentes speaks to a captive and enthusiastic audience.

Nancy eloquently expresses her gratitude and appreciation to the volunteers and contributions made by the community. She praises the work of the museum staff and brings attention to key people who helped make today’s opening a success.

Volunteers And Museum Docents

Volunteers abound in support of the museum.

Local quilters volunteered to be docents during the opening day festivities. My friend Lisa (far left) is a gifted applique artist who moved from Houston to La Grange to become a part of this history making venture. My friend Kay (far right, with the scarf) is a wonderful piecer and has a quilt in the premier exhibition.

The quilts on exhibition are from the book Texas Quilts Today: Lone Stars III, written by Karey and Nancy and published by the University of Texas Press. This is the third and last book in the series. It’s an amazing collection of Texas quilts and Texas quilt history. (I’ll tell you more about the book—and why it’s so special—in a future post.)

Karey highlighting the mural and garden at side of museum.

Karey highlighting the impressive mural and garden at the museum.

After several rounds of applause, Karey takes to the microphone to acknowledge the contributions of the mural artist, the painter and the garden designer.

Museum Mural

A look at the mural that graces the side of the museum.

I wish I could have gotten closer shot of the mural, but the building is BIG and the Magic Camera can’t change that. With its distinctive exterior, I seriously doubt anyone will have trouble finding the museum.

Karey and Nancy share a poem with the audience.

Karey and Nancy share a poem with the audience.a

After all the acknowledgments, Karey and Nancy joined together to share lines from a poem. You could see that it was a touching and heartfelt moment for them. (I wish I had the words to share with you.) At the poem’s conclusion Nancy and Karey join local officials for the ribbon cutting part of the ceremony.

Ribbon Cutting part 1

Let the ribbon cutting begin!

It’s clear that BIG RIBBONS need BIG SCISSORS.

Ribbon Cutting part 2

Scissors at the ready and we are counting down.

Oh, and BIG RIBBON cutting ceremonies need an official countdown.

Ribbon Cutting part 3

The moment has arrived . . .

There’s one more thing you should know. BIG RIBBONS also need sharp scissors. These scissors were definitely BIG—but none of them were sharp.

Ribbon Cutting part 4

The museum is now OPEN!

Tenacity is in Nancy and Karey’s blood, so the ribbon didn’t stand a chance. When I look at this photo, Karey’s expression says it all.

The Museum Line Ends Here

The line to get into the museum ran to the end of the block.

Once the ribbon ceremony was over, the line to get in began to form. Get a load of that line. The line is half a block long and there is no free alcohol involved. How cool is that?

Friends Marcie and Judy

Quilting adventures are best when shared with friends.

The weather was fantastic, so no one seemed to mind the wait. The line moved quickly and we were inside in no time. The two smiling faces you see above are my friends Marcie and Judy. Events like this are best when shared with like-minded friends. We had a blast and I will always remember this special day.

The exhibit was beautiful and awe inspiring—but don’t believe me—go see it for yourself. It is definitely worth the drive to La Grange. I know I was just there, but I’m already planning another trip.

I’m sure you will have a hard time believing this, but I spent most of my time in the museum visiting with friends. I barely saw the quilts before the museum closed. I know! It is hard to believe.

As I said, another trip to the museum is in my future—and the next time I go—I promise to actually look at the quilts. Who knows, maybe I’ll see you there and we can look at them together.

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32 Responses to “11.13.11: A History Making Day”

  1. Will Quilt for Chocolate Says:

    Tom – they should have given those ladies ginormous rotary cutters to cut that ribbon!!!

  2. Kim / SeeingStars Says:

    Sounds like a perfectly wonderful day! I especially like that you visited with so many friends, you’ll need to go back again to see the quilts. I’d say it was a healing day for you.

    Glad your Magic Camera is keeping you challenged and entertained. I bought a new one shortly after your purchase b/c our old one sort of died. It would cycle on and off until it consumed all the battery juice, greedy little bugger. Sadly, the new one isn’t magic at all. A squib, to use J. K. Rowling’s term. I may have to overcome this bad luck by removing some of the habitual user error – poor lighting, composition, etc.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Kim, Yes, it was a pretty wonderful day. The only thing that I think would have made it better, would be to have ALL my friends there.

      I went from conversation to conversation throughout the day. It did me a world of good. This is exactly the way my life is. There are deeply painful things happening at the same time I am experiencing tremendous joy.

      The museum opening was a joy-filled day. My heart is still severely broken, but this kind of experience balances it out.

      I’m sorry to hear your camera died. I hope you can get it fixed or find a new one. The Magic Camera has been a blessing to me. It is so smart that it makes me look like I know what I’m doing.

      I was even asked at the museum opening if I was the staff photographer. Can you believe that? The Magic Camera made me look like I knew what I was doing. That is true magic.

      Once you get your mechanical issues fixed, I think you just need to photograph more. The more you shoot, the better you get. I shoot two or three times more photos than I post.

      Every professional photographer I know deals with the same issues you are having. They just consider it part of the learning process and continue to take photographs. Understanding lighting and composition take time, but anyone can learn it.

      I also color correct and crop images if I need to. It’s just what photographers do, so grab that camera and start shooting. The magic is just waiting for you to embrace it.

  3. Jim Gatling Says:

    Wonderful coverage!!! Great pix! Thaks for going and sharing!!!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Oh, you are too sweet. It was a FUN day. Wish you could have been there. You would have loved the museum and downtown La Grange. La Grange has all sorts of wonderful little shops, just begging for you to come in a browse. I didn’t get a chance to do anything more than window shop while I was there, but next time—I’m going in each and every one.

  4. Margo Says:

    I was lucky enough to visit the museum before the official opening, when it wasn’t nearly as crowded. You will need to go back and check out the quilts that are hanging! They are fabulous! I can’t wait to see the Grandmother’s Flower Garden as it grows and matures, so I will try to get back next year. Thanks so much for the great photos of opening day! Hugs………….

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey Margo! I agree, the quilts are fabulous. The garden is going to be something to see when it gets settled in and starts to grow.

      It was so good to see you at Festival. Your kind words and supportive hugs meant a lot to me.

      After seeing you at the awards ceremony, I only have one question. How come you are not getting older? You look younger than when I saw you last year at Festival. What are you taking—and can I get some?

  5. kelley davis Says:

    Oh how i wish I could have been there. I would love to go inside and look at all the fantastic quilts.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Well, hello dear friend. It’s so good to hear from you.

      I would have LOVED for you to be there. The museum was wonderful and you would have had a ball seeing all of the quilts.

      It makes me smile, thinking of us going to the museum. Hopefully that will happen one day. Take care of yourself.

      Love, Tom

  6. Lynn Kelly Says:

    Wonderful news. I knew Lisa had moved there to help with all of it! Can’t wait to see it.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Lynn, Yes, it is wonderful news. Lisa and the museum were meant for each other. She is SO happy now. The community loves her and she is living the life she dreamed of having.

      I couldn’t be more happy for her. She is a jewel and I’m fortunate to be able to call her a friend.

      Yes, you must make plans to go to the museum. It should be on every quilters bucket list.

  7. Jayardi Says:

    • • • Sounds like a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. So happy you were able to partake in the festivities and share them with us. We recently had a small museum open up in Cedarburg, WI, where they converted an old barn. Just a hop, skip and a jump away. Sadly, I missed the grand opening and have yet to visit. Think I’ll plan a trip soon. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi there, It was a wonderful Sunday afternoon filled with friends and quilts. It was a fantastic combination.

      Wow, a museum right at your back door too. That must be a sign. I think you should plan that trip soon. I mean real soon. You need to make sure they have room to display your work.

      When they have your quilts on display, I’ll be there to say “I told you so,” and to get your autograph. 🙂

  8. Carla Says:

    That’s cool and so close. That mural was awesome. Glad to see another great post from you.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey Carla, It is cool and close. The mural is awesome. It’s exactly what I quilter would want on the outside of a quilt museum. Since you love to photograph, La Grange is full of great things to shoot. The square surrounding the courthouse is delightful and very photogenic.

      I plan to take a trip to La Grange just to take photographs. It really is a darling little town.

  9. Nikki Brackin Says:

    when we leavin’ ?

  10. Sherry Says:

    Okay, so, when are we going? I have off the weekend of 12/17 & 18…just in case. Shirley Stevenson is a member of my guild…AND SHE’S IN THE THE MUSEUM AND IN BOOK #2 AND #3! So, which of your quilts do they want to display? Are you on the board of directors? They’ve got pie cooling in the window? MAN ALIVE what a trip that must have been! Thanks for taking the magic camera so I can pretend!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Sherry, I’ve not set a definite date, but it’ll be soon. I’ll have to check my schedule for December, but anything is possible.

      For Shirley’s work to appear in these to books is quite an accomplishment. She must be a very talented lady. You are lucky to have her in your guild. She must be an inspiration to you.

      No, I don’t have a quilt on display at the museum—maybe one day. You are too sweet, but no, I’m not on the board of directors, but I think it would be fun to be on it.

      It was a wonderful day and I’m glad I could share it with you. I thank God and Bill for the Magic Camera.

  11. Brenda Wall Says:

    Shouldn’t you be a reporter. Reading this I felt like I was there (well I wish I had been). Can’t wait till you go back again and see some quilts. Hugs.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Brenda, I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed my story. I tried to capture the moment as best I could, but there is nothing like being there. It was a fantastic and historical day and I felt lucky to be there.

  12. Barbara Says:

    Hey Tom!
    Great pics and coverage! I was to the left of Kay and inside for the most part so didn’t see the long lines but I was told about them again and again! What a great day for La Grange and Texas! It was so great to visit with you! You’ll absolutely have to come again when it’s not so crowded so you can have a good look at the quilts. Every one is fantastic!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Barbara, I didn’t realize you were standing next to Kay. I had to really stare at the picture to see you. I actually only see your hair and your blouse, but now I know it’s you.

      It was a wonderful day and I had the BEST time visiting with you. I had a blast hearing your stories about knitting, smocking and sewing. Thank you for sharing them.

      I’ll be in touch.

  13. kathydrew Says:

    Hello my friend. What an exciting post. And, yes I can imagine you were busy with all your friends and didn’t have a chance to see the quilts. People are drawn to you. Can’t wait to see the beautiful quilts that are hidden inside. Will be looking for the pics.

    Love and Kisses
    Kathy

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey Sweetie, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. You would have had a ball at the opening. La Grange is a wonderful town and loves visitors. You’ll have to come to visit and we’ll spend the day shopping and eating and going to the museum. Sounds like a perfect day to me.

  14. Norah Oberg Says:

    I have always wanted to make a quilt but have never made the time. I have a 8 month old daughter now so I told myself I was going to make her one before she turns 1. I have a lot to learn and fast 🙂 Thankfuly I have a great neighbor who is going to help. Thank you for your great post and information!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Norah, Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. You are very lucky indeed. Having a neighbor who is a quilter is a gift beyond measure. I’m sure she will have a wonderful time teaching you what you need to know to make your first quilt.

      Making a quilt can change your life—trust me.

      Good luck!

  15. Jackie Says:

    I started to write this the other day when you posted it and thought I had, but I guess I got so busy at work that when I clicked I had not posted… O’well ? So I need to send this cause you are always on my list..( No..the good one ;o)
    When I saw the post, I was more excited that you posted than I was about the grand opening…oops! When I read it I thought to myself, the ember is still there and you are a flame waiting to burn. As I open up my email today and see the last two posts…I thought there has been a spark and your burning up a trail. I’m soo happy for you! You have the best support system going here just KEEP plugged in you will be fine,you’ll see they will turn into the best memories. Love you!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Jackie, You are too sweet. Thank you for keeping me in your prayers. I am grateful to received each and every one of them. Your prayers and prayers from others, give me the strength to keep going, when I have felt like stopping.

      Thank you for your continued encouragement.

      Love you too.

  16. daniellewilkes Says:

    Tom, you know that’s practically in my backyard, too… by Texas standards, of course!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey there, Yes, we are both very lucky to have such an amazing place right in our back yards. Wonderful quilty things are happening at our back doors. We are fortunate, indeed.

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