Group Visit to Quaker Tapestry

As Kendal’s Quaker Tapestry Museum celebrates its 25th anniversary manager Bridget Guest, who has been involved right from the start, urges locals to pay a visit or to get involved with a gem of a museum that’s right on their doorstep.

Since we opened our doors in April 1994, more than 350,000 people have been to see us. But the vast majority of those who come are from around the world and far outnumber locals.

We are Kendal’s smallest accredited museum – an Arts Council museum – and we are a VisitEngland Hidden Gem, which means we meet very high standards. That includes everything from our hello and service to our quality exhibits.

When you get here there’s lots to see and do….

  • At the heart of the Museum is the Quaker Tapestry, a modern masterpiece, in which 4,000 men, women and children from 15 countries had a hand. It’s 77 colourful embroidered panels tell a myriad of stories. More than 40 are on display with informative audio guides and knowledgeable volunteers on hand to explain. There’s something to interest lovers of history, art and craft. Not only do they cover a multitude of subjects – including the industrial revolution, developments in science and medicine, astronomy, the abolition of slavery, social reform, and ecology – but they are brought to life by the craftsmanship of the people who designed and created the embroidery.
  • There’s also a 19th Century friendship quilt, the Barrett Counterpane, a major work of art with connections to the Victorian Art World, William Morris and Queen Victoria. Stitch by stitch and thread by thread, the counterpane took shape over a period of ten years, during which time 34 embroiderers, all of them women, contributed their own personalised squares. Each square holds clues that, once solved, shed light on forgotten lives. A silent cloth filled with the voices of the women from the youngest, in her early teens, to the eldest woman of 83. It has an ability to transport us to other lives and times.
  • You can also learn about Quakers in business, from the 17th century to the present day. ‘Money, Shoes, Chocolate and all that’ exhibition has interactive displays, films and activities.
  • The Museums Association (MA) is campaigning for museums to develop their role as socially purposeful organisations. It’s something that has been a big part of what we do by supporting the creation of other community textiles, helping to make a positive and lasting difference. One we are very proud to have instigated is the Kendal Flood Tapestry, which is now on view at the Quaker Meeting House 10am -4.30pm until August 24.

In a small way we are also changing lives, by offering volunteering opportunities. It can be a route back to work or a place to come to be refreshed, energised and inspired as you become part of a friendly and welcoming team. You don’t have to be a Quaker and there are all sorts of jobs from working in the shop to helping a visitor discover a story within a panel.

We know from what our visitors say that our exhibits can reach people in ways that nothing else can. We are playing a role in strengthening our community and contributing to a fair and just society. We are more than a building and an exhibition, come and find out by visiting us.

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“Who would have thought a wash-day could be so much fun, I have learnt such a lot today!”

Jill, volunteer, Care & Conservation of the Collection Team