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African American Quilts

from the Robert & Helen Cargo Collection
On view May 12-August 5, 2007



Me Masked, by Yvonne Wells

African American Quilts from the Robert and Helen Cargo Collection, a traveling exhibition developed by the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, features 30 quilts ranging in date from the 1930s to the 1990s. The quilts, originating mostly in the southeastern USA, reflect the diverse traditions that form our American quilting and cultural heritage.

African American Quilts is truly an exhibition that will speak to everyone. Those interested in the artistry and craftsmanship found in quilts will appreciate the quality of these quilts, many of which have been shown at museums such as the Smithsonian and the Museum of American Folk Art. Those interested in African American history and the preservation of cultural traditions will find in these quilts a fascinating glimpse into an important part of our shared American past. Cultural historians, and those interested in the historically gendered world of quilting, will enjoy the opportunity to learn more about the extraordinary women behind the quilts, many of them self-taught artists finding their own voices within a cultural framework. And finally, anyone with an appreciation for art in any form will respond to the bold designs and color, and to the improvisational and personal nature of the quilts themselves.

African American Quilts from the Robert and Helen Cargo Collection will offer local residents the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the rich traditions, quilting and otherwise, found both in our own community as well as in the country as a whole.

Thank you to our exhibition sponsors:

Textile Arts Council

Jenneth & John Knox

Althea Kennedy

The following public programs are being presented by the Pasadena Museum of History in conjunction with the exhibition African-American Quilts from the Robert and Helen Cargo Collection:

Museums of the Arroyo (MOTA) Day

Sunday, May 20, 11:00 am-5:00 pm at various locations

18th Annual free day at the six history-based Museums of the Arroyo. Family-friendly activities at the Pasadena Museum of History include quilting demonstrations in the exhibition African American Quilts from the Robert & Helen Cargo Collection, quilting crafts and story time for children, self-guided tours of the 100-year old Fenyes Mansion, open house in the Finnish Folk Art Museum, music in the gardens and a chance to try traditional African American games and jump roping in the gardens.   Visitors may park in one location and take free shuttle buses to participating venues: Gamble House, Heritage Square, Los Angeles Police Museum, Lummis Home, Pasadena Museum of History, and Southwest Museum.  Information available online at

Tickets: Free

Tour & Tea

Wednesday afternoons, May 23 through August 1 -- 12:30 pm at the Pasadena Museum of History & 1:30 pm at the Raymond Restaurant, 1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

Enjoy a special docent guided tour of the exhibition, African-American Quilts from the Robert & Helen Cargo Collection at the Pasadena Museum of History, followed by afternoon tea at the historic Raymond Restaurant.  The tea menu includes a warm scone with butter, preserves & cream, finger sandwiches, delicate tea pastries, sparkling cider and tea (champagne $5 extra). This special package is available each Wednesday during the run of the quilt exhibit; no minimum group size; maximum group 28 for inside seating and 14 for patio seating.

Tour: $8 non-members; $4 Museum members;

Tea: $25 (add $5 for champagne)

Reservations required minimum 24 hours in advance: 626-577-1660, ext. 10

Quilting Sistahs Trunk Show and Panel Discussion

Tuesday, May 22, 7:30 pm

              See exciting contemporary quilts crafted by a local collective of master African-American quilters, the Quilting Sistahs.  The artists will show their textile arts and talk about their inspirations and challenges.

Admission (includes entry to quilt exhibit and reception): $20 general; $15 Museum and Textile Arts members. 

Reservations:  626-577-1660, ext. 10.

Fairy Twilight Stories in the Garden

Thursday, May 24, 6:00-8:00 pm

              Children ages 4-8 are invited to wear their own fairy garb and come to our third annual Fairy Party.  Children and their accompanying adult guests will hear stories of fairies and elves, drink fairy punch and eat elf cookies, and make a fairy craft -- all in the spectacular gardens and galleries of the Pasadena Museum of History and Fenyes Mansion.  Special child-friendly tours of the exhibit African-American Quilts from the Robert & Helen Cargo Collection will be part of the evening's fun.

Admission (per child with accompanying adult): $12 non-members; $10 members.  Reservations: 626-577-1660, ext. 10.

Beginning Quilting Workshop

Sundays, June 3, 17, 24 & July 1, 2:00-4:00 pm

              Master quilter/teacher Althea Kennedy will lead a four-session, hands-on beginner's class focusing on machine work and piecing. Fabric kits provided; rotary cutters and mats available for use. Participants must bring basic straight-stitch sewing machine and sewing basics (thread, scissors, pins, etc.).  Supply list provided at time of registration.

Admission: $45 general; $40 Museum and Textile Arts Council members

Reservations:  626-577-1660, ext. 10 (class limited to 15 students

Quilt Care & Share

Sunday, July 8, 2:00-4:30 pm

              An opportunity for the public to bring their quilts and quilting questions to a panel of experts who will help identify styles and dates of quilts in their possession, and offer advice on preserving/cleaning/storing. 

Cost: 3 quilts free; additional quilts $5 each

Reservations: 626-577-1660, ext. 10

From Congo Square to Carnegie Hall

Friday, July 13, 7:00 pm in the Fenyes Estate Gardens

              Composer and KUSC radio host Alan Chapman presents a whirlwind history of jazz -- with taped musical accompaniment -- from its origins to its connection with the classical traditions.

Like the Afro-traditional quilt, jazz and blues are unique African-American contributions to history (indeed the only American contribution to music history) with their roots in African culture.

Admission (includes entry to quilt exhibit and reception): $20 general; $15 Museum & Textile Arts Council members. 

Reservations:  626-577-1660, ext. 10.

Peek at the Past: Quilts and Needlework

Wednesday, July 18, 9:00-11:30 am

This free family program for youth aged 4-8 and accompanying adults involves our youngest visitors in history through a "peek" into a room in the 100-year-old Fenyes Mansion, crafts, games and activities related to the theme -- plus refreshments, too. 

Complete Peek at the Past Schedule: Wednesdays, June 27, July 11, 18 & 25, August 1, 8 & 15.

Tickets/Reservations: Free; Advance registration required, please call 626-577-1660, ext. 10.


Patchwork Picnic - Free Family Event

Thursday, July 26, 5:00-8:00 pm

              With the lush Fenyes Estate gardens as our playground, we'll have an old-fashioned summer-in-the-park-style evening highlighted by traditional African-American games, live music, a storytelling corner where kids of all ages can enjoy quilt-themed tales of wonder and merriment, a quilt-making workshop suitable for all ages, and docent-guided tours of the quilt exhibit.  Bring a picnic and join the fun!

Tickets/Reservations: Free; call 626-577-1660, ext. 10 for more information.

470 West Walnut Street ~ Pasadena, CA 91103 ~ Ph 626.577.1660 ~ Fax 626.577.1662 ~