WASHINGTON, D.C. — The NAMES Project Foundation (NPF) announced that the National AIDS Memorial will become the new caretaker of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and NAMES Project programs. As part of the transition, the NAMES Project and the National AIDS Memorial have agreed to jointly gift care and stewardship of The Quilt’s archival collections to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, making this collection available through the world’s largest public library.
This decision will return The Quilt to the San Francisco Bay Area, where 32 years ago during the height of the AIDS epidemic, a group of strangers gathered at a San Francisco storefront to remember the names and lives of their loved ones they feared history would forget — and with that seemingly simple act of love and defiance, the first panels of The Quilt were created.
“This is the culmination of decades of work that achieves a vision long held by The NAMES Project leadership who, armed with an unwavering commitment to The Quilt, were determined to see that the AIDS Memorial Quilt would stand the test of time,” said Julie Rhoad, president and CEO of The NAMES Project Foundation. “With this set of new caretakers, we are confident that the legacy of The Quilt and The NAMES Project is secure.”
Since 1987, The NAMES Project Foundation has cared for The Quilt and its associated archives. It has been headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. since 2001
The Quilt and its programs, which include display activities, panel making, conservation and public education efforts, will transition to the National AIDS Memorial in early 2020. It will be a component of a “Center for Social Conscience” that the National AIDS Memorial plans to build in the coming years, which will be grounded in the story of the AIDS epidemic, social justice action and change.
The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress will become the new home for the National AIDS Memorial Quilt Archive
in 2020. This archival collection currently totals more than 200,000 items. It includes biographical records, correspondence, photographs, tributes, epitaphs, news clippings and artifacts submitted by panel makers that add context about the lives memorialized on The Quilt panels.
The archive also documents the creation, marketing and exhibition of The Quilt over the past 32 years. Digital assets include images of all the Quilt blocks and detailed information about the creators of quilt panels. The American Folklife Center will preserve the archival records, which will be made available to researchers and the public after archivists process and organize the materials.
The announcement was made during a ceremony in the Great Hall at the Library of Congress with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman John Lewis and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, speaking to the power of The Quilt. They were joined by the founders of The Quilt, families who lost loved ones to AIDS, quilt panel-makers, representatives from The NAMES Project Foundation, National AIDS Memorial, Library of Congress, AIDS organizations and quilt long-time supporters.
More than 50,000 individual 3-by-6-foot memorial panels — commemorating more than 105,000 individual lives of people who have died of AIDS — have been sewn together by friends, lovers and family members.
Each year, thousands of panels of The Quilt are displayed throughout the U.S. and worldwide.