On my online history list a topic recently surfaced about donating quilts to museums and how much “control” you have over the collection once it is donated to the museum. Do you have the right to make certain stipulations when you donate them? What happens when the museum decides to part with your item? Will they give it back to the family? Do you even have a right to ask them to do that? Also what if you can’t find a museum interested in taking your entire collection? Like you, I would like to see my quilts in a museum, but what if you are unable to find a home for them there.
It is hard to see a collection you built be taken apart because of the emotional investment we have in what we choose to collect.
But take heart – if you collected that “motif” or classification of quilt, there is someone down the road who is building their personal/private collection that will want that quilt, the provenance, and the story of how it came to you in their private collection. Let someone else experience the same joy you had in acquiring “that quilt.”
Choose a good quilt broker/dealer you have faith in – give her or him the provenance, sell the item through them and, if you are financially able, set up a scholarship fund at your local high school or college so generations of kids will have the opportunity to go to college on your collection – you can put a stipulation on that scholarship that if a family member related to you comes of college age that particular year, the scholarship goes to your family member.
Or give the money to one of the quilt museums to fund quilt related programs/storage or an organization like the American Quilt Study Group for an annual grant/scholarship?
Quilts are like our children, they are ours for awhile, but no matter how much we want to we are not allowed to keep them forever.