The National Quilt Register

The National Quilt Register (NQR) is an online database and central resource for the Australian quilting community. It provides digital access to quilts held in public and private collections throughout Australia. The quilts on the register vary in age, style, materials, manufacture, function and provenance. They hold important stories about the history and heritage of quilts and quilt making in Australia.

The NQR aims to make Australia’s quilts and their stories accessible to a world audience. Individuals and organisations across Australia can apply to add digital quilt records and information. Visitors to the site can then explore this material, but the quilts remain in their location.

Quilt researchers and enthusiasts are encouraged to share their knowledge via our resources page. Here you’ll find articles, stories, and information about quilt care. There’s also a community notice board, a platform for the quilting community to share news about upcoming exhibitions and events. The many layers of information available on the NQR make it a valuable resource for students, researchers, and professionals in the museums sector.

History

The NQR originated from the work of the Pioneer Women’s Hut, a small museum in Tumbarumba, New South Wales. It evolved from their vision to represent the lives of ordinary rural families and in particular, the ingenuity of rural women. Founder and curator, Wendy Hucker, was its driving force. A champion of women’s history, Wendy built strong support for the project through a wide range of government sources and broad public interest. In 2001, the first incarnation of the NQR was launched as part of the Centenary of Federation celebrations.

The Register garnered the support of major museums, galleries, heritage organisations, community museums, quilting and embroidery groups, women’s groups and individuals across the country. It provided a central place to share stories and record Australian history through quilts. It allowed people to tell their own stories, some for the first time, about love, despair, survival, adversity, friendship and endurance. The original NQR showcased quilts from the 19th century to the cut-off date in 1965, with the core premise that all quilts – from the decorative to the functional – are equally significant. It stood to represent the great diversity of women’s lives and celebrated the major contributions of Aboriginal women – Australia’s first needlewomen.

The original NQR website was made accessible via the Australian Museums and Galleries Online (AMOL) project, an initiative of the Heritage Collections Committee. Hosted by the Powerhouse Museum, AMOL maintained a national museum directory and federated search function. In 2005, AMOL was superseded by the Collections Australia Network (CAN), a continuation of the project with expanded scope and greater focus on community and regional museums. Despite its success and pioneering work in transforming access to cultural heritage, CAN lost financial support and its closure was announced in 2014. The NQR was subsequently archived on Trove, an online database aggregator maintained by the National Library of Australia. This meant that although the website was not live, the records and information it once held could still be accessed by the public.

The National Wool Museum entered discussions with Pioneer Women’s Hut, Museums and Galleries New South Wales, and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (formerly the Powerhouse Museum), to devise a plan to reinstate the NQR. With the full support of these stakeholders, the National Wool Museum was able to secure funding from the Gordon Darling Foundation to revive the project. This version of the NQR was launched in June 2017, and is operated by a dedicated group of volunteers based in Victoria. The National Wool Museum is delighted to be able to return the NQR to the quilters of Australia.

Pioneer Women’s Hut, Tumbarumba, c. 1985, courtesy of the Pioneer Women’s Hut.
National Wool Museum, Geelong, 2012.

Acknowledgements

The National Quilt Register belongs to the quilters of Australia. The website you see today is the result of many years of hard work and input from people across the quilting community and museums sector.

Thank you to the Pioneer Women’s Hut for establishing this brilliant resource. In particular, we wish to acknowledge Wendy Hucker (1928-2015). The NQR is just one example of her remarkable contributions to rural women’s history, to community museums, and to the sector generally.

Thank you to the many volunteers, past and present, who have so generously donated their time, knowledge and skills to make this project a reality.

The contributions of many other organisations are also gratefully recognised and appreciated, including Arts NSW, Australian Museums Online (AMOL), Canberra Quilters, Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, Hunter’s Hill Quilters, Illawarra Quilters Inc., Murray River Quilters, Powerhouse Museum, Quilt Study Group of Australia, Textile Network ACT, Wangaratta Centre Quilters and Victorian Quilters.

Please accept our apologies and get in touch if there is an organisation or group missing from this list.

Contact Us

E:  info@nationalquiltregister.org.au

T:  (03) 5272 4701

P:   National Quilt Register

C/O National Wool Museum

PO Box 104

26 Moorabool St

Geelong VIC 3220