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AIDS quilt on display this week

New showing in original home of quilt

Volunteers unfold a block of quilt during the traditional reading of the names.

The largest San Francisco showing of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in 13 years takes place this week in the Castro district in order to coincide with Valentine's Day.

The quilt, started in 1987, is made up of panels that memorialize individuals who have died of AIDS. What is now the largest community art project in the world will be shown at five locations throughout the week. The main exhibition will take place at the former site of Tower Records on Market Street and will feature approximately 40 quilt blocks. Four other locations on Castro Street will display one or two blocks of the quilt: The Under One Roof gift shop, Catch restaurant, Bank of America, and Body clothing store. A quilt block is made up of eight individual panels, each dedicated to a different AIDS victim. The blocks being displayed this week are Bay Area pieces, with many being made here in San Francisco.

Even though the current display features over 320 individual panels, that is only a fraction of the entire quilt. As of November 2008, the AIDS Memorial Quilt had more than 5,864 blocks of quilt panels, according to Beth Feingold, the executive director of Under One Roof. That's equivalent to more than 1,270,350 square feet,  over 54 tons - and more than 46,000 people.

The main exhibition at 2278 Market Street will be open from 12 noon to 8 p.m. through Monday, February 20.