Executive Director Letter

Leslie C. Levy - Ardis & Robert James Executive Director

This year we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Robert and Ardis James Collection with three exhibitions entitled An Evolving Vision: The James Collection, 1997-2002. The exhibition highlighted significant pieces from various segments of the collection. Classics- stunning antique American quilts that showcase some of the fascinating research conducted over the years by curators, visiting scholars, and students; From the Studio- early and innovative art pieces stand as a tribute to the bold early vision of the Jameses; and New Horizons- a sampling of our international collection, a diverse group of textiles from 17 different countries. This anniversary exhibition highlighted the significance of the quilts that were donated to the University of Nebraska by the Jameses, but also emphasized the dedication of the collectors as they built on the idea of having a museum where quilts could be studied, conserved, and exhibited.

Telling a global and diverse story of quilts is an important part of our mission. Beginning in October 2021 in the Coryell Gallery, we featured Painted Quilts from the Hopi Mesas. Quiltmaking became a tradition after its introduction to Hopi women by Christain missionaries more than 100 years ago; quilt artists draw upon designs unique to their culture that are often reflected in their outstanding pottery and baskets as well. We hold ourselves to a high standard for exhibiting diverse collections of textiles to increase cultural competency for our guests, and Painted Quilts from the Hopi Mesas offered the IQM an immense opportunity to represent Native American quilters in the collection.

During my visit to New York in 2019, Joanna S. Rose stated she wanted to give her collection of red and white quilts to the IQM in honor of her husband Daniel and their 63rd wedding anniversary. It is poignant that this collection has marked significant occasions for the Roses and reenforces the notion that quilts are the textile history of our shared lives. This famous collection arrived at the museum shortly before her death in November 2021. Being able to visit Joanna S. Rose was a personal and professional highlight of my life, and the IQM is honored to steward this collection, totaling 651 quilts that span three centuries, and preserve it for future research and scholarship. The exhibition of Joanna’s collection, which was inspired by the 2011 Infinite Variety exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum in New York, brought in record numbers of visitors in-person and online through social media.

Over the next 25 years, the International Quilt Museum will remain focused on our mission of building a global collection and audience that celebrates the cultural and artistic significance of quilts. Our goals and optimism remain high. We look forward to another year of learning, conserving, and exhibiting our renowned collection of quilts and serving the public with passion and expertise.

Leslie C. Levy

Ardis and Robert James Executive Director

Download the Annual Report PDF (2.4MB)