The Powerhouse Museum is seeking information from anyone with a past involvement or connection with the Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt Project.
The Australian project began in 1988, inspired by the American NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt which had begun the previous year, and became a focus for community grief as the virus spread in Australia.
Each quilt is made from many panels, each one created by the friends or family of a person who has died from AIDS since 1982.
The museum was approached nearly five years ago by the Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt Project NSW which was ceasing operation and looking for a permanent home for the quilts.
The museum began documenting the quilts in 2007 in preparation for acquiring those that belong to NSW.
The Powerhouse’s principle curator for design and society Christina Sumner told Sydney Star Observer the museum was looking forward to providing the quilt with both a permanent home and permanent care.
“We see the quilt as a very important national cultural record of the way the Australian community responded to the public health disaster of the AIDS epidemic,” Sumner said.
“We felt, because of its power to communicate that story of what happened with AIDS and the community, that it was an object in its entirety that was suited to the collection.
“The power of the quilt lies in its narrative capacity and we would like to be able to document the story of both the people who are commemorated by the different panels as well as those of the families and the makers — as full a record of the people involved and the community as possible.”
Sumner said some of the material belonged to Victorian makers, so it was vital to identify any elements that were not from NSW.
Quilts are being documented at the Powerhouse’s Discovery Centre branch in Castle Hill by museum staff and volunteers from the Quilt Project NSW.
The Discovery Centre is an off-site storage and artifact care unit for the Powerhouse which hosts its own exhibitions, and already holds a treasure trove of other objects from Australia’s GLBT history.
info: Contact Nicky Balmer at the Registration Department of Powerhouse Museum on
9217 0117 or at nicoleb@phm.gov.au

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