There are many forms of art and craft that have always fascinated me; however, quilting never captured my interest as much as glass-work or woodwork, my two favorite mediums. That all changed in 2006, when I saw the most amazing quilts as part of a fiber arts exhibit, at the Southwest School of Art, in San Antonio. Sometime after that, I heard that Paducah, Kentucky was home of the National Quilt Museum.
Paducah? This California gal had never heard of Paducah, population +/- 25,000; however, I kept hearing the name over and over, after moving to Georgia. When Bruce and I noticed Paducah was on the itinerary for our American Queen Steamboat cruise, it piqued our interest, because of the National Quilt Museum. If the quilts at the exhibit we had attended were that amazing, imagine how incredible they would be at a national museum!
We made the museum our first stop, following the hop on-hop off bus tour of the artsy town that is located on the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers, halfway between St. Louis and Nashville.
As soon as we walked into the lobby, we knew this wasn’t just your grandmother’s quilt museum! There are not enough adjectives to the describe the quilts we saw, and if photography (flash or otherwise) had been permitted, the pictures wouldn’t have done those quilts justice. Go ahead and check out their website, though; you will be amazed! Glancing at the current exhibit, you will think those are paintings hanging on the wall. You can’t possibly imagine the thousands of hours that went into making some of those quilts, obviously labors of love.
I did, however, take pictures (with permission) of the gorgeous stained-glass windows in the lobby and conference room:
Visiting the National Quilt Museum was not only the highlight of our day in Paducah, but it was one of the highlights of the entire cruise. Those sentiments were echoed by Bruce as well as several of the other men we spoke with on our cruise. (Even the men who were dragged to the museum by their wives were enthusiastic about what they saw and happy they went along!)
Aside from the museum, the entire town of Paducah had such a cool, artsy vibe. As a matter of fact, UNESCO designated Paducah as the world’s seventh City of Crafts and Folk Art, in 2013. (Santa Fe, New Mexico is the only other American city given such a designation.)
In addition to the artistic feel of the town, great care has been taken to preserve the historic buildings of Paducah. As a result, twenty blocks of the downtown commercial district have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Paducah also did a great job of beautifying their formerly drab flood wall with murals designed and painted by Robert Dafford and his crew. We enjoyed learning about Paducah’s history through these murals, just as we had done in Cape Girardeau.
Walking around downtown was such a pleasure, and we enjoyed seeing the historic (and beautifully maintained!) homes nearby.
American Queen Steamboat Company’s marketing department definitely got it right when they chose Paducah as the meeting point for American Queen and the company’s third riverboat, American Duchess. On its inaugural river cruise, the brand-new Duchess arrived before sunset and tied up just ahead of our boat. It was a beautiful evening that couldn’t have been planned any better. As the passengers from both boats waved, shot photos, and shouted greetings, the Queen welcomed her sparkling new sister with several loud steam-horn blasts and a calliope concert. It was a travel brochure moment for American Queen’s marketing department, and we were sure the drones that were sent up captured some amazing shots! We sure had a lot of fun, too!
Although several of the crew and passengers went over to tour the Duchess, we opted to enjoy another fabulous dinner in the dining room, and wait until January to see the new girl in town. (More to follow next month!)
Until then, here are some scenes from that Kodak moment, reminiscent of when the American Queen, Mississippi Queen, and Delta Queen met up in Paducah in 1996, as was depicted in one of the wall murals (above).
Coming up next: A DAY “AT RIVER”