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Visting the National Museum of the American Coverlet in Bedford, PA

Throughout Pennsylvania there are many small museums dedicated to a variety of somewhat obscure subjects, and one such spot in the National Museum of the American Coverlet.

The National Museum of the American Coverlet is located just south of downtown Bedford, PA and is the first year-round museum in the country dedicated to American woven coverlets.

The museum first opened to the public in 2006 and is located within the historic Common School Building. The school building was built in 1859, making it from the same era as many of the coverlets on display.

The exterior of the National Museum of the American Coverlet in Bedford, PA
The museum is located in the historic Common School Building.

To be perfectly honest, I knew little to nothing about American woven coverlets before my visit, but I always love checking out small town museums, so I was excited to finally have a chance to check it out.

The National Museum of the American Coverlet occupies the old school’s first floor and features nearly 100 different woven coverlets from around the country. These coverlets are rotated out periodically, so there’s a good chance that things might look a bit different when you visit compared to my photos, but the quality of the pieces and general arrangement should still be the same.

A historic loom sitting in a room with woven coverlet in the National Museum of the American Coverlet in Bedford, Pennsylvania
There are a lot of things to see in the museum.

One thing that really amazed me walking around the museum was how much variety there was. In modern times we take blankets for granted, but in the past, they were often family heirlooms, so a lot of quality and artistry went into making them.

That makes the pieces on display not just historic artifacts, but also pieces of art that are quite fascinating to see.

Each coverlet had a sign next to it that explained a lot about its history, as well as things like the meaning of various symbols, the techniques used to make them, and much more.

Three coverlets hanging on the wall at the National Museum of the American Coverlet in Bedford County PA
Some of the coverlets on display during my visit.

For those that are interested in the subject, this is a wealth of information that you’re sure to find fascinating. However, as someone without much specific interest in coverlets, I found the signs a little heady and hard to skim for just the basic and more intersting tidbits.

In addition to the nearly 100 woven coverlets on display, there is also a nice collection of historic looms throughout the space. Some even have unfinished coverlets on them so you can get a better idea of how this beautiful pieces were made.

Large wooden loom on display at the National Museum of the American Coverlet in Bedford PA
There are many historic looms and other weaving tools on display.

Some of these had great information about the history of the loom while on others, the signage was a little lacking, but regardless, their addition in the space really adds a lot to the museum.

There are also some other small tools and related pieces showcased within the museum. Many of these didn’t have any signage though, which was a shame because I would have liked to have learned more about some of them.

One room I especially found interesting focused on how linen was made in the past. Learning about this process was a great accompaniment to the museum, and I’m glad a space like this was included.

A loom and woven coverlets on display at the National Museum of the American Coverlet in the Alleghenies.
More museum displays.

Overall, the National Museum of the American Coverlet offers a really great look into the history of these pieces and the equipment and processes that were used to make them. While I think anyone that appreciates history would enjoy this museum, it’s definitely more designed for those that are interested in this particular subject matter.

Still, if you are looking for something to do in Bedford County, this is an interesting spot to visit.

Looking for more places to visit nearby? Check out Old Bedford Village, the covered bridges of Bedford County, and the Fort Bedford Museum.


National Museum of the American Coverlet

Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10a-5p
Sundays: 12p-4p

Cost: Adults: $10, Children: Free

Website: CoverletMuseum.org

Address: 322 South Juliana Street
Bedford, PA 15522

 

See map below for other area attractions.


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