October / November 1995
Sew We Don’t Forget
NAMES Project captures Quilt on CD-ROM—while it still can
Thousands of poignant
displays of the AIDS Memorial Quilt over the course of eight years have begun
to take their toll on many of the fabric panels themselves. So before the earliest
contributions deteriorate beyond repair, the Quilt’s caretaker, the NAMES
Project Foundation, has embarked on an ambitious project to archive all 31,000
panels. The process entails photographing each three-by-six-foot panel—a task
estimated to take two to three years in itself—after which the picture and any
mementos or information accompanying it will be stored digitally on CD-ROM.
Professors at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst will then code and
catalog each image in a specially designed database. When finished, the archive
project will allow schools and libraries worldwide access to every part of the
Quilt either on-line or through multimedia AIDS education packages. Still one
of the most visible symbols of the AIDS epidemic, the Quilt will continue its
annual schedule of 1,600 public displays and will once again be assembled in
its entirety in Washington, D.C., next October, when it will comprise 45,000
panels and cover 32 acres.
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