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AIDS quilt exhibit to open here

January 5, 2013

Heritage Museum Curator Tammy Schrecengost unfolds a section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which will be on display at the museum beginning Wednesday. (HERALD photo/Steve Reagan)

A moving memorial to victims of a horrifying disease will be on display at the Heritage Museum beginning Wednesday.

Eight blocks of the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be displayed at the museum through the end of January, Curator Tammy Schrecengost said.

The quilt, which in its entirety weighs more than 54 tons, was first displayed in 1987 at the National Mall in Washington D.C. It consists of panels sewn by friends and family members of those who died from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

The quilt consists of 48,000 panels and is more than 1 million square feet in size; the last time it was displayed in its entirety, it completely covered the National Mall. It was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and remains the largest community art project in the world.

Schrecengost feels a personal connection to the quilt — one of the panels memorializes her brother, Richard Gregg Burrow, who died from the disease in 1995.

“I've always checked to see where it was displayed, but it was usually in larger cities like Dallas,” she said. “I checked into whether we could display it here, and it turned out to be easier than I thought.”

News of the exhibit has already sparked interest around the area; Schrecengost says she has received several calls from out-of-town residents inquiring about the event.

“This is just a very moving thing when you go see it, because so many people have died from this horrible disease,” she said. “I never thought I'd be touched by it, but then my brother got sick.”

The exhibit will be available for public viewing when the museum opens at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. For more information, call 267-8255.

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