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Exhibition

Layered Legacies: Quilts from the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts at Old Salem

March 9–July 21, 2024
East Building, Level B, Joyce W. Pope Gallery

Quilts materialize the bonds of home, family, and community as they are passed down from generation to generation. Yet they are also records of our shared history, interwoven with broader social, cultural, and economic legacies that make up the complex fabric of the United States.

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Layered Legacies invites audiences to consider the multilayered stories stitched into quilts made in the American South between the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. Featured are more than 30 bed coverings and related objects from the collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts and Old Salem collections. Foregrounding the masterful artistry of women, these bed coverings are expressions of love, objects of exquisite craftsmanship, and material documents containing hidden stories of long-forgotten women, both white and Black, wealthy and enslaved, whose hands created and cared for these important textiles.


Organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art in partnership with the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. This exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. Research for this exhibition was made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.

Household of Margaret Ann Bynum Jordan Ridley, Pieced quilt, 1846, Southampton County, Virginia, cotton, 116 1/2 × 100 in., MESDA Collection, Gift of Julia Ridley Smith and Moreland Tyler Smith (5777) 

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