Quilt museum celebrates 10th anniversary, gifts that made it possible
Posted: Thu, May 10, 2018
ABOUT THIS PHOTO: “Uncovered: The Ken Burns Collection” is one of several exhibitions appearing at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum to celebrate its 10th anniversary (photo courtesy of Larry Gawel).
Nebraska’s International Quilt Study Center & Museum is celebrating a decade of teaching about and preserving the history of quilting and patchwork.
The center kicked off its 10th anniversary on May 4 with a block party that welcomed more than 500 guests and the opening of a new exhibition, “Singular Fascination.”
“Singular Fascination,” which shows through Aug. 30, looks at quilts with a repeating single basic shape across the entire surface of a quilt. The exhibition includes quilts from 1840 to 1960.
“We are immensely proud of what we have accomplished in our first decade as a museum,” said Leslie Levy, the Ardis and Robert James Executive Director of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum. “But we have only touched the surface. We look forward to developing and expanding our collection, exhibitions and research to serve our global audience.”
$10K challenge offered to recognize 10 years
Susan Weber, a University of Nebraska–Lincoln alumna and president-elect of the Friends of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, has pledged a $10,000 donation to support quilt preservation and exhibition. She was inspired to offer the challenge gift as a way to honor her late mother, Gweneth Moxham Eickman, who was a quilt artist and enthusiast.
Susan is making a $10,000 gift to be shared equally between the International Quilt Study Center & Museum Exhibition Fund and its Preservation Fund.
“My challenge to the quilting community across the world is to match or surpass my $10,000 gift in honor of my mother to exhibit and preserve the quilts at IQSCM,” Weber said. “Your gifts will help bolster continuous growth as the museum goes into its second decade. Thank you for your help in matching my gift.”
Private donations made 2008 opening possible
Since opening March 30, 2008, the museum has welcomed more than 165,000 visitors and has grown to become the world’s most extensive publicly owned quilt collection with more than 5,000 objects. Dating from the 17th century through today, the collection comes from more than 50 countries.
The $12 million facility was privately funded with more than 260 contributions to the University of Nebraska Foundation, including a leadership gift from the Robert and Ardis James Foundation. More than 130 quilt guilds, as well as quilt organizations in six other countries, provided donations for the building campaign.
Since then, many others have made gifts of every amount to support the center’s unique mission.
The International Quilt Study Center within Quilt House was founded in 1997 when Nebraska natives Ardis and Robert James began donating their extensive quilt collection and have since donated more than 1,000 quilts.
Ardis M. Butler James grew up in Lincoln and Omaha and married Robert G. James of Ord, Nebraska in 1949. They had three children, Robert Jr., Catherine and Ralph, and made their home in Chappaqua, New York. Ardis James died in 2011.
New addition announced in 2014
In June 2014, the museum began construction on a 13,000 square-foot addition. The expansion was made possible by a $7 million gift from the Robert and Ardis James Foundation and now features additional gallery space and more needed room for quilt collection storage and care.
In addition to funding the expansion, the Robert and Ardis James Foundation donated $1 million to establish a permanent endowment to provide a stipend to the executive director of Quilt House for salary, research and program support.
About his longtime support, Robert James said Quilt House is dedicated to the people of Nebraska, to quilt lovers and to those around the world who have helped recognize quilts as real art.
“It is helping the world comprehend a previously underappreciated form of art,” James said. “That’s what it’s done, and that’s what Ardis and I always had in mind.”
Expanding a premier international collection
With a well-established base in traditional American quilts, the museum has turned its focus to expanding its international collection, with quilts and patchwork representing traditions around the world. With significant collections from Southeast Asia, southwest China and Central Asia, the museum is currently building its collection of works from Africa.
“Expanding our collection to include as many regions of the world as possible is a top priority,” said Marin Hanson, international curator of collections. “By doing this, we are documenting and preserving the story of quilting and patchwork for future generations. Also, by highlighting the commonalities among various global stitching traditions, we’re also creating connections between people, cultures and nations.”
A place like no other
Visitors to the museum have seen a range of exhibitions representing the museum’s unparalleled collection of antique American, international and art quilts.
The museum has shown solo exhibitions from contemporary artists and makers, including Nancy Crow, Michael James and Shizuko Kuroha. It has also featured works from notable private collectors, most recently the private collection of filmmaker Ken Burns.
International Quilt Study Center and Museum exhibitions and collections have traveled to museums and galleries nationwide. They have also gone to significant quilt events in China, France, Japan and the United Kingdom.
Upcoming exhibitions mark 10th anniversary
Current and upcoming exhibitions to celebrate the 10th anniversary include:
“Singular Fascination,” May 4 to Aug. 30;
“War and Pieced: The Annette Gero Collection of Quilts from Military Fabrics,” May 25 to Sept. 16;
“Color and Contour: Provençal Quilts and Domestic Objects,” June 15 to Oct. 28;
“The Mark Dunn Collection,” Sept. 7 to Jan. 12; and
“Cheddar Quilts from the Joanna Rose Collection,” Sept. 28 to Feb. 10.
On June 1, Annette Gero will deliver the Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Excellence Fund’s International Lecture at 5:30 p.m. The presentation will offer insight into “War and Pieced,” a collaborative exhibition between the IQSCM and the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.
The International Quilt Study Center and Museum relies on charitable contributions of every amount to make possible its many year-round programs and services. To make a gift online, go to nufoundation.org/quilts or contact Heather Lundine, director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-458-1281. Gifts may also be designated in someone's honor or memory.