With an industry totaling over $3.5 billion (higher than the $3.3 billion Scrapbooking industry), quilting is hardly irrelevant to modern culture—nor is it restricted to grandmas or even women. Fiber arts in general are gaining share in the crafting, hobby, and art industries.
The $80k of federal funding this year (or even $1mil total) that you are so up in arms about is likely no more than any other pet project pushed through by lawmakers. Surely other niche and mainstream museums are also funded in part by federal, state, and local grants.
Had you put as much research into the history of quilting as you did sussing out the funding for this museum, you might find that even after the technologies of photography and videography were widely available, quilting continued to be a large part of artistic expression in America. Not all quilts are about preserving memories—the can be commemorative, but they are often simply works of art in their own right. Even large museums have quilts in their collections.
When residents of Chattanooga were suffering under the decline of the Rust Belt, the tradition of quilting and make-do-and-mend surely helped families keep warm and possibly raise funds for those in need. Perhaps one of those quilts has made it into the collection along with quilts from all over the country.
Grab a quilt to warm up with while your wallet is snatched by the legion of other federal expenditures—and if you’re worried about the money crossing state lines, well, don’t worry, far more is leaving the country just as quickly.