Quilts are hot — and not just for keeping toasty at night. The humble linen has evolved into an art form that's as likely to be displayed on a wall as on a bed. "It's pretty broad, from the extreme fine arts world to the grassroots," says Ricky Tims, one of the world's top fiber artists. The art form celebrates Quilt Week, one of its biggest annual events, April 23-26 in Paducah, Ky. Tims shares favorite places to see this "soft art" with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.

National Quilt Museum
Paducah, Ky.
Even when this city isn't celebrating Quilt Week, visitors can get a fabric fix at this museum, which has what may be the world's top quilt displays, Tims says. It's one of the reasons Paducah won the honor of being named a UNESCO Creative City. "You feel as if you've walked into a cathedral and your hat should be off. You're absolutely in awe of the work that's exhibited there." 270-442-8856; quiltmuseum.org

Gee's Bend Quilting Cooperative
Gee's Bend, Ala.
The famed African-American quilting community of tiny Gee's Bend has been featured on U.S. postage stamps and in international museum exhibits. Visitors can meet the quilters and buy works from pot holders to full-size, abstract fabric murals. "Their designs have an amazing graphic quality," Tims says. 334-573-2323; Alabama.travel

International Quilt Study Center & Museum
Lincoln, Neb.
This University of Nebraska-Lincoln institution holds the world's largest quilt collection, Tims says."It spans the history of quilting from way, way back, up to contemporary quilt makers."The collection also showcases the work of Michael James, who helped launch the art quilt movement in the 1970s and is now chairman of the university's Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design.402-472-6549; quiltstudy.org

Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum
Golden, Colo.
This small museum hosts rotating exhibits like "Manifestations," which features quilts made by men. The biennial offering, through April, is one of the museum's most popular programs. "It's part of the fiber of Golden, Colorado," says Tims, whose work has been included in the popular shows. 303-277-0377; rmqm.org

San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
San Jose
The Silicon Valley gallery proves that the region's innovators don't just work with motherboards and Web start-ups. "There are a tremendous number of quilters in the Bay Area. San Francisco is a hotbed," Tims says. "This is avery, very well-established quilt museum." 408-971-0323; sjquiltmuseum.org

Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts
Cedarburg, Wis.
This 3-year-old museum started as a project to record the history of more than 8,000 quilts. Now it has a permanent home on a 19th-century farmstead, featuring both vintage and modern examples of the craft. "It has gotten tremendous buzz," Tims says. 262-546-0300; wiquiltmuseum.com

The City Quilter
New York
Don't let the urban setting throw you. Manhattan has a vibrant quilting community, much of it centered on this store, which stocks more than 4,000 fabrics, holds classes and runs an art quilt gallery. "New York is a destination for quilters," Tims says.212-807-0390; cityquilter.com

La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum
La Conner, Wash.
Located in a recently refurbished historic mansion about an hour north of Seattle, this 17-year-old museum explores the world of textiles from antique quilts to traveling international shows. "They're very, very proud of that museum. They do really good exhibitions," Tims says. 360-466-4288; laconnerquilts.com

Visions Art Museum
San Diego
This contemporary gallery had its genesis in a national juried exhibition that began in San Diego in 1985. Finally in 2010, it opened as a museum, showcasing the latest in contemporary fiber art. "It's not what Grandma made," Tims says. "For Southern California, Visions Art Museum is a destination not to be missed." 619-546-4872; quiltvisions.org

Texas Quilt Museum
La Grange, Texas
This Lone Star quilt haven grew out of Houston's mammoth International Quilt Festival, which started in 1974 and now attracts more than 60,000 visitors a year. The museum's collection reflects just a sample of the extraordinary works displayed at the show. The holdings, Tims proudly notes, include his pieces. 979-968-3104; texasquiltmuseum.org