Entire AIDS Memorial Quilt heads to Washington, D.C.

AIDS Memorial Quilt

It will be a full day of packing and moving tomorrow as volunteers with the NAMES Project Foundation pack up the last remaining panels of the 54-ton AIDS Memorial Quilt to be trucked to Washington, D.C., to be displayed as part of two major programs.

“For weeks and months, volunteers have been prepping, sorting and packing the more than 47,000 panels, and this week the truck loading began. The final trucks arrive at The NAMES Project Foundation offices on 14th Street between 11 a.m. and noon on Thursday, will be loaded by the Quilt’s army of volunteers, and depart, headed for Washington, D.C., at approximately 3 p.m.,” states a press release from the foundation.

As the keeper of the Quilt, the NAMES Project Foundation has been collecting all of the panels by asking those who have them on display at their colleges or museums or airports throughout the globe to return them to Atlanta.

The Quilt will be part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival from June 27-July 8.

The  Quilt will then “blanket” the National Mall for the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) from July 21-25. Sections of the Quilt will also be on display at more than 40 venues in Washington, D.C., including museums and National Parks and Monuments, according to a press release from the Names Project Foundation.

“Science has begun to articulate a new AIDS narrative that says if we test and treat enough people globally, the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic will change and we will see the beginning of the end of AIDS,” said Julie Rhoad, president and CEO of The NAMES Project Foundation in a statement.

“It’s time to re-double our efforts — join us as volunteers and sponsors and, together, let us call on The Quilt to do what it does best: affirm our humanity, make clear our connections to and responsibility for one another, and garner a new era of support and advocacy for the AIDS cause. The Quilt is a connector and catalyst, an ambassador and educator. Bringing every panel of The Quilt back to Washington D.C. provides an amazing opportunity share its power with a largely new audience and in doing so place HIV/AIDS squarely back into the public conscience,” she said.

Congress has deemed the AIDS Memorial Quilt a National Treasure. The Quilt is made of 47,000 panels representing 94,000 lives of people who died from AIDS.

The Quilt started with one 3-foot by 6-foot panel — the size of a coffin — in 1987 and today is the largest piece of ongoing community art in the world with sections of it on display throughout the world.

Photo: Sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on display at Piedmont Park during last year’s AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K run. (by Dyana Bagby)