The National AIDS Memorial will mark the 35th anniversary of the AIDS Memorial Quilt with an historic outdoor display June 11-12. More than 3,000 panels of the Quilt will be displayed in Golden Gate Park’s Robin Williams Meadow.
The free public event is the largest Quilt display in over a decade and the largest ever in San Francisco history.
Many original panels made during the darkest days of the pandemic will be displayed, along with hundreds of new panels shown for the first time publicly, including many from the memorial’s Call My Name panel-making program, which raises awareness about the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS within communities of color.
During the two-day event thousands of visitors can view the thousands of names and stories stitched into the panels as they are laid out in the meadow. There will be panel-making workshops, social media storytelling and a community village with 25 community-based organizations providing public information.
An opening ceremony beginning at 9:30 a.m. June 11, will include remarks by leaders from the AIDS movement, including the Quilt co-founders, followed by a Quilt unfolding ceremony led by hundreds of volunteers.
Throughout the day, panel-makers, visitors, and dignitaries will read aloud the names of lives lost to AIDS from the main stage. The closing ceremony on June 12 at 4 p.m. will feature the presentation of new Quilt panels.
On hand for the event will be numerous long-term survivors, including Quilt Co-Founders Cleve Jones, Mike Smith & Gert McMullin.
The first panels of the Quilt were created in June of 1987 when a group of strangers, led by Jones, gathered in a San Francisco storefront to document the lives they feared history would forget. The meeting of devoted friends, lovers and activists would serve as the foundation for The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Each panel made was the size of a human grave and they saw the Quilt as an activist tool to push the government into taking action to end the epidemic.
Today, the Quilt is the largest community arts project in the world, consisting of 50,000 panels and weighing 54 tons. It includes the names of 110,000 individuals who died of AIDS-related causes. In 2020, the Quilt, previously stored in Washington D.C. and Atlanta, became part of the National AIDS Memorial.
For more information on the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and the National AIDS Memorial, visit www.aidsmemorial.org/quilt35/.