Five Minutes with Matt Collinsworth, CEO National Quilt Museum Paducah
The National Quilt Museum in Paducah is home to around 650 works of quilting art, all of them made in, or after, 1980, making it one of the best collections of contemporary quilts in the world. Opened in 1991, it was founded by quilting enthusiasts Bill and Meredith Schroeder to celebrate the work of contemporary quilters and bring it to a wider audience. We spent five minutes with the new CEO, Matt Collinsworth.
ECT: You have recently taken up the post of CEO at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah – do you have a quilt or textile background?
MC: I am a Kentucky native and spent the first 15 years of my museum career as the director and then director/curator of the Kentucky Folk Art Center in the Appalachian region of Kentucky. We had many quilts in our collection, and our exhibitions often included textiles, amongst a wide variety of other media. I was the director of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota for about three years, but after the pandemic, we needed to return to Kentucky for family reasons and, luckily, the position at NQM opened just as our family was beginning to discuss a potential move. NQM is a fantastic museum where my particular skill set can be used to move the institution forward over the next several years.
More than 90 percent of our museum's collected and exhibited works were made by women
ECT: What makes the National Quilt Museum a must-visit for both quilt lovers and those new to the art form?
MC: First, contemporary quilts are stunning as works of art, regardless of whether they lean toward exquisite technique or toward bold expressiveness. It's fascinating to think about how quilts moved from the bed to wall, from a foundation in folk and community arts to the pinnacle of fine art. It's also important to note that, while most art museums around America and the world have struggled over the past decade to include more works by women, more than 90 percent of our museum's collected and exhibited works were made by women.
ECT: We are coming to Paducah during AQS QuiltWeek 2023, what does having this show in the city mean to the museum and how do you get involved?
MC: AQS QuiltWeek is, in a way, the foundational event of the new Paducah. When Bill and Meredith Schroeder founded the American Quilters Society, they were also opening a new door for our community. They followed by founding the museum, and new life was breathed into Paducah's riverfront and downtown districts, culminating in the recent UNESCO designation. The return of QuiltWeek this spring, after a three-year hiatus, was like a homecoming in many ways. Our job at the museum is to help contribute to the wonderful experience that our visitors have that week. We certainly accomplished that task this spring and we’re looking forward to 2023.
So are we! Discover our tour here
The words ‘honouring today’s quilters’ are written above the entrance to the museum