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Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt
September 16, 2008 - December 14, 2008
Blocks and Strips
Blocks and Strips Quilt, 2003
Ruth Kennedy, American
86 x 75 inches (218.4 x 190.5 cm)
Collection of the Tinwood Alliance
Photo: Steve Pitkin, Pitkin Studio, Rockford, IL
Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt
September 16, 2008 - December 14, 2008

This exhibition takes a fresh look at the quilting traditions in the community of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, introducing new artists and motifs in works dating from the early twentieth century through 2005.

Presented are approximately seventy-four extraordinary quilts that demonstrate how the artists play upon the structure or "architecture" of traditional quilt patterns. Each quilt is unique, yet shares a common visual vocabulary with others made in Gee’s Bend. With newly discovered work from the 1930s to the 1980s, as well as more recent designs by established quiltmakers and the younger generation they have inspired, the exhibition documents the development of key patterns—such as housetop, courthouse steps, flying geese, and strip quilting—through outstanding examples.

Exhibition Minutes

The Gee's Bend quilters tell their stories...
Listen to or download Assistant Director of Exhibition Planning Zoe Kahr's 6-part Podcast with the quilters.
Available in Exhibition Minutes Podcast - iTunes


This exhibition is supported by a MetLife Foundation Museum and Community Connections grant, by The Pew Charitable Trusts, and by The Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Education and community outreach programs are funded by The Delphi Project Foundation, Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company, the Connelly Foundation, Paul K. Kania, and Lynne and Harold Honickman. Promotional support is provided by NBC 10 WCAU and The Philadelphia Tribune.


This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Tinwood Alliance, Atlanta.


Dilys Blum • Curator of Costume and Textiles


Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, first floor


Museum of Fine Arts, Houston • June 4–September 4, 2006
Indianapolis Museum of Art • October 8–December 31, 2006
Orlando Museum of Art • January 28–May 13, 2007
The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore • June 17–August 26, 2007
Tacoma Art Museum • September 22–December 9, 2007
The Speed Art Museum, Louisville • January 2–March 23, 2008
Denver Museum of Art • April 13–July 6, 2008
Philadelphia Museum of Art • September 16–December 14, 2008

Related Exhibitions

Quilt Stories: The Ella King Torrey Collection of African American Quilts and Other Recent Quilt Acquisitions includes thirteen examples by leading Southern quiltmakers. The collection was formed between 1981 and 1983 while Ms. Torrey was conducting fieldwork on African American quiltmaking with Maud Southwell Wahlman. Linda Day Clark: The Gee's Bend Photographs captures the richness of the rural landscape of Gee's Bend as well as the strong sense of community forged by the women who are carrying on the quilt-making tradition there.

View teaching materials related to this exhibition.