The National AIDS Memorial is launching a 50-state AIDS Memorial Quilt Virtual Exhibition. The exhibition, timed in conjunction with World AIDS Day, which is Dec. 1, will go online Nov. 16. Individuals and organizations are invited to be a part of this historic initiative and organizers say they hope the power of the Quilt will help the nation heal and remember during these difficult times.
Each year on World AIDS Day, the National AIDS Memorial Quilt team works with hundreds of partners to arrange more than 1,000 in-person Quilt displays across the country to honor and remember loved ones lost to AIDS.
"World AIDS Day is taking on new meaning this year as COVID-19 has brought an enormous loss of life and grief to millions of people," said John Cunningham, executive director of the National AIDS Memorial. "During the darkest days of the AIDS crisis, the Quilt was a source of immense comfort and inspiration and was used as a tool for social activism to open the eyes of the nation to injustice and to help survivors grieve and heal. Through this exhibition, we hope the power and the beauty of the Quilt can serve the same purpose for those who are experiencing loss and grief due to COVID-19."
The virtual exhibition will feature more than 10,000 Quilt panels representing all 50 states and U.S. territories. Each display host will be able to feature a selection of beautiful Quilt blocks of their choice and curate a personalized display narrative that will accompany each display. The exhibition will be free to the public and can be found at aidsmemorial.org/virtual2020. Displays will be categorized by state under the individual or organization host name and presented virtually as the first-ever 50-state exhibition of the Quilt. The exhibition will run through March 31, 2021.
The fee to participate as a virtual display host is $500. Applications to participate must be received by Nov. 1 to be part of the current exhibition. Proceeds from the exhibition will be used to ensure the continued care and conservation of more than 48,000 individual panels of this national treasure. Each year, in-person Quilt displays account for more than half of the Quilt's annual operating budget.
"Even though nothing can replace seeing our beautiful Quilt in person, this virtual exhibition allows us to still share the Quilt and its stories just as we have done for past three decades around World AIDS Day," said Gert McMullan, a co-founder of the Quilt and quilt conservator at the National AIDS Memorial.
This year marks 40 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported in the U.S., a pandemic that has led to nearly 700,000 lives lost and still no cure four decades later. As the nation struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic, the horrific loss of life has surpassed 200,000 in a matter of months.
On World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, the National AIDS Memorial will bring together voices from both pandemics for an important conversation about health justice, social activism, remembrance, hope and resilience. World AIDS Day 2020, a national conversation will spotlight the interconnectedness of both pandemics — the lives lost, the survivors, the activism, the heroes. Through a distinguished list of guest speakers, panelists, video storytelling and musical tributes, insights will be shared about both events and questions will be answered about how a nation responds, how it heals and what lessons must be learned to prepare for the future. More details about the National AIDS Memorial World AIDS Day program will be announced in the coming weeks.
To learn more about the National AIDS Memorial World AIDS Day commemoration and sponsorship opportunities, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To become a virtual Quilt display host visit aidsmemorial.org/virtual2020.