Quilts are like pages from a vast encyclopedia of textiles, with their abundance of fancy silks and homespun wools speaking across the ages.
The quilts in Kaleidoscope were made in the United States, Canada and England, mostly during the 19th century. They were used as bedding, as lap robes and slumber throws, and as fancy piano covers in Victorian parlours. Most of these quilts are now orphans, their makers unknown, their ancestry obscure. The social messages they carried when they were made – who made them and why, for whom and under what circumstances – have evaporated, leaving behind elaborate kaleidoscopes of colour.
Carole and Howard Tanenbaum are art collectors, and they acquired these quilts because of how they look – in other words, as art.
“The first quilt we saw that we couldn’t live without was a crazy quilt at an antique dealer’s store in Stratford,” says Carole Tanenbaum. “I love texture and I also love randomness and I was immediately attracted to it. "
“We never deliberately set out to have a quilt collection, but one year we bought one and then the next year we saw three we loved, and pretty soon there we were with a quilt collection.”
Related Programs and Events
Lecture: Collecting Quilts with Adrienne Hood
Wednesday March 10, 6:30 pm
Properly observed, a quilt can tell us a lot about its maker and user. A collection of quilts reveals even more. Textile expert, Adrienne Hood will explore the idea of quilts as historical objects. Hood is a Professor of History at the University of Toronto and was formerly a Curator of Textiles at the ROM.
Free for TMC Members and Full-time students, Non-members $12.
Advance tickets may be purchased in person at the TMC's front desk. Please arrive early, seating is limited.
March Break Drop-In Program: Quilting across the Generations
Monday March 15, Wednesday March 17, Friday March 19, 1:00 - 4:00 pm
Children and their care-givers are invited to draw inspiration from Kaleidoscope and design their own unique quilt. Children will create a quilt block to take home, or to leave at the museum to be displayed in fibrespace. For ages 7 and up.
Free with admission.