From the LA Times:
The man didn’t remember seeing the quilt before and wasn’t sure who made it. His mother and sister had been avid quilters, as had so many women of his childhood. Maybe they made it together and it was tucked away when his mother died in 1934. His sister was also dead, so there was no one left to ask.
JoAnna Luth Stull, registrar at the museum, was working that day and gently explained that the museum didn’t buy items but suggested where the couple could get the quilt appraised. She was immediately transfixed by the workmanship as she smoothed the cloth across a table, not noticing the bold geometric pattern.
“Oh, wow,” said the museum superintendent as he happened by. “That’s a swastika quilt.”
Stull, 55, did a double take. Arranged across the quilt in shades of red, pink and beige were 27 swastikas. Her reaction was immediate and visceral. She saw an emblem of hate. “That’s what my generation sees,” she said.
So began an unlikely dilemma for the small museum in a city named for Horace Greeley, the New York newspaperman who famously cajoled all to “Go West.”
Could they display the quilt? Should they?
“Our mission is to preserve and interpret the history of Greeley. This is a cultural artifact,” said Erin Quinn, museum director. Greeley was founded in 1870 as a utopian community, with strict covenants requiring temperance and modest living. Quinn can imagine women only a generation or two removed from the city’s founders gathering to socialize and make something functional.
The bent-arm cross was once a popular pattern in frontier quilting circles and given many names, including Catch Me If You Can and Whirligig. Quinn’s best guess, based on the history of the flour mill in town, is that the quilt was made in the late 1910s or the 1920s — long before most in the region knew what was brewing an ocean away in Europe.
I agree with this sentiment:
Quinn says debate continues within the museum over whether the quilt will ever be exhibited and in what context. She votes for display, and would like to use it as an educational tool to show how icons can change.