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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Panel from the AIDS Memorial Quilt, 1987

This panel, one of more than forty thousand made since 1987 to memorialize people who have died of AIDS, is dedicated to Roger Lyon, an AIDS activist who testified before Congress in 1983. A new interpretation of a traditional American craft, the quilt aims to change Americans' view of the AIDS epidemic—not as a moral or lifestyle issue but as a global health crisis. This panel was sent to the Smithsonian in 1990 by The NAMES Project, which maintains and displays the quilt. At the time many considered AIDS too politically sensitive a topic for the Smithsonian to address. However, as the quilt was displayed several times on the National Mall and grew ever bigger, public concern also increased. In 1998 the panel became a permanent part of the museum's medical sciences collection, which in recent years has tried to document not just medical technology but also the political, social, and cultural aspects of health and medicine.

See also: Medical History, Political Protest, Quilts

Panel from the AIDS Memorial Quilt, 1987

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