The National AIDS Memorial QuiltThis is an intensely moving memorial- so extremely personal. It’s joyous and it’s profound. And it’s scale is almost incomprehensible.
This international project grew out of the intense human need to remember loved ones. Many of the earliest victims of AIDS and their friends didn’t have access to traditional familial means of mourning and burial. New forms needed to be created where none had existed.
The Quilt was conceived in November of 1985 by long-time San Francisco gay rights activist Cleve Jones. During the annual candlelight march to honor slain Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, Jones learned that over 1,000 San Franciscans had been lost to AIDS. He asked each of his fellow marchers to write on placards the names of friends and loved ones who had died of AIDS. At the end of the march, these placards were taped to the walls of the San Francisco Federal Building. The wall of names looked like a patchwork quilt.
The first panel of the quilt was created the next year.
Today, it is considered the largest community art project in the world: it contains 47,000 panels, each a memorial to someone lost to AIDS. It was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
So while it doesn’t reside permanently on display in one physical location, it provides the space for the profound need to share memories and the love for those who are now gone.