Quilt Scout Tour: San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles by Mary Fons, Interview with Director Nancy Bavor

Last month, I thought it would be fun to take you dear Quilt Scout readers on a virtual tour of some of our nation’s incredible quilt museums and talk to the folks who make these heavenly places possible. We visited the Iowa Quilt Museum and spoke to the Museum’s director Megan Barrett about the excitement of starting a new quilt museum in a small town.

Well, the tour bus has driven many hours to drop us off at our latest stop: The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles in sunny California. Ready to stretch your legs? Ready to bask in quilt perfection? Then bring your fanny packs and your notepads—I’ve got mine—as we visit with the Museum’s former Curator of Collections and Exhibits Coordinator and current director, Nancy Bavor, a quilter, scholar, and all-around amazing lady.

Quilt Scout: Hi, Nancy! Before we “go into the Museum,” tell me a little about your rather impressive credentials.

Bavor: Sure. I hold a bachelor's degree in Art History from Northwestern University and a masters from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the History of Textiles with a Quilt Studies emphasis.

QS: My inner academic has to know: What was your thesis about?

Bavor: My thesis explored the origins and development of the art quilt in California.

QS: That’s perfect for where you are now! I also happen to know you have served on the boards of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) and the Quilt Alliance. But let’s talk about the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. What do people see when they come into the Museum?

Bavor: As you enter, you will see a small alcove with a work by our current Artist in Residence. This recently included a mutton-sleeved long dress in muslin, covered with embroidery hoops, where visitors could embroider images of endangered plants and flowers.

The hallway leading to our four galleries recently held some powerful group and individual quilts from the Social Justice Sewing Academy. The gallery off the hallway on the left,  named after long time Museum supporter, former Board member and artist Yvonne Porcella, frequently contains local artists. A recent exhibition of works by Thomas Knauer just closed. Knauer is not a California artist, but his work complemented the other exhibitions we had planned.

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