The AIDS Memorial Quilt has a detailed method for keeping track of names on panels and where they are located on the quilt. So when a person makes a request, for example, to have her son’s panel on display at a certain event, staff can look up a four-digit number on a database that matches up to a 12×12 block of panels and the names on those panels, Harris explains.
“Every quilt block has a four-digit number on the edge of the block and we can locate by name or by that four-digit number,” she says.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt is the largest piece of community folk art in the world and Atlantans do not have to wait for official displays to view it. The Atlanta warehouse where the quilt is stored offers regular tours as well as workshops on how to make panels.
Harris says that the AIDS Memorial Quilt receives more than 1,000 new panels a year — or about three panels a day — memorializing someone who has died from AIDS.
There is no cost to submit a 3-by-6-foot panel. The names on the quilt represent approximately 17 percent of all U.S. AIDS deaths, according to the Names Project Foundation.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt was founded in 1987 in San Francisco by gay men who wanted to honor their loved ones who had died from AIDS. There are currently more than 91,000 names on the quilt, which measures nearly 1.3 million square feet.
The last display of the entire quilt was in October 1996 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Some of the famous names on the Quilt include Arthur Ashe, Roy Cohn, Perry Ellis, Keith Haring, Rock Hudson, Robert Mapplethorpe, Freddie Mercury, Anthony Perkins, Sylvester, Ryan White and Pedro Zamora.
Panels from the Quilt are currently on display at the Museum of Design Atlanta through Jan. 1.
Top photo: The AIDS Memorial Quilt is constantly on display at various sites throughout the U.S., including last year at Emory University. (by Dyana Bagby)