The AIDS Memorial Quilt will return to Washington, D.C., this summer as part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival June 27-July 1 and July 4-8, and during The International AIDS Conference July 21-25.
Sections of the quilt will be on display during the Folklife Festival which takes place on The National Mall in the U.S. capital. According to The NAMES Project Foundation, caretaker of the quilt, “Creativity and Crisis: Unfolding The AIDS Memorial Quilt” is the first Festival program to focus exclusively on community craft and performance that developed in response to crisis and grief. Through craft demonstrations, dance and musical performances, interactive discussions, and other activities, the 2012 Festival will commemorate the innovative and resourceful ways through which communities have endeavored to educate people and to cope with one of the most complex epidemics in modern history.
Quilt in the Capital will take place during the International AIDS Conference when sections of The Quilt will also be on display on The National Mall as well as at more than 40 other locations throughout Washington, D.C.
If you’ve never seen the quilt, or sections of it, I encourage you to see it. I saw it nearly 20 years ago in Washington, D.C., when it was still possible to display the quilt in its entirety. It was an incredibly emotional experience. One 12′ x 12′ section consists of eight 3′ x 6′ panels and four sections make one block. When the quilt was laid out for viewing, there were walkways between the blocks. It was impossible not to be touched by the stories and lives depicted in the panels. I had to turn away several times to gather myself before viewing more.
I would love to see the quilt laid out in its entirety again, but that’s practically impossible considering the size of the quilt now. There are 5,865 12-foot-square sections, more than 47,000 panels and its total size is 1,270,350 square feet, the equivalent of 272 college basketball courts with the walkways; 174 courts without the walkways. If all 3′ x 6′ panels were laid end to end, it would stretch 51.3 miles.
Getting the quilt to Washington will be no easy task. It weighs 54 tons! More than 15 million people have viewed the quilt. I hope you’re among the next 15 million. Click here to learn more about this summer’s events.