AIDS Memorial Quilt Returns To National Mall For 25th Anniversary

When it comes to advocacy, raising awareness about HIV/AIDS helps continue the much needed conversation. One of the most notable advocacy campaign has returned to Washington as part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Since 1996, this is the first time the quilt has returned featuring about 8,000 panels telling the stories of those affected.

With the advent of technology, now tourists can beat the heat. Thanks to the NAMES Project Foundation and researchers from the University of Southern California, a website was created that launched at the festival opening Wednesday. The quilts will be organized by first name allowing suers to see blocks dedicated to specific people, their name, city, date of birth and date of death (if available). Those at the event can use it to locate specific panels laid out on the mall much easier.

At the opening ceremony for the festival held , Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said the AIDS Memorial Quilt symbolizes a need for people “to learn to live together.”

“The AIDS Quilt is saying we all live in the same house, the American house, the world house,” Lewis said. “We can never, ever leave this house, so together we must build a world community that is free from disease and is finally at peace with itself.”

Visitors to the Folklife Festival, set for June 27-July 1 and July 4-8, won’t see the entire quilt, but a portion of the current 48,000 panels. The Smithsonian will display 2,400 panels at a time, and will rotate them twice after the initial roll-out; in all, 7,200 panels will be part of the fest.

Have you had the opportunity to check out the quilt? Would you want to visit it?