Past

December 7, 2012 to September 1, 2013

As the United States evolved into a modern, industrialized, and urbanized society in the late 1800s, Americans gazed with nostalgia toward the pre-industrial colonial era. For many Americans, the colonial era was the nation’s Golden Age, a period that experienced the fullest flowering of distinctive American culture and virtues. “Colonial” was defined loosely, encompassing anything pre-Victorian (pre-1840). Americans romanticized the past, imagining it held a simpler way of life and a more perfect society.

March 1, 2013 to November 30, 2013

“Posing with Patchwork: Quilts in Photographs, 1855-1955” presents a group of antique and vintage photographs in which quilts are part of the scene. The quilts in these photographs are one element in a larger, human story; maybe it’s a story about family relationships, about remembering, about identity, about community. Sometimes we can pull the stories from the shadows by looking for clues: inscriptions on the photograph itself, elements of costume and fashion, or the way in which the quilt is used as a prop—from acting as a decorative backdrop to blanketing a deceased loved one.

June 7, 2013 to March 2, 2014

“In many of the blocks, the corners of the pieces didn’t fit too well. I had to mention it, and she came right back with, ‘Well, if you can do better, prove it!! If not, keep still.’ Soooooo- What else could I do?”

Over the next fifty years he made more than 300 quilts! For the first 25 years his quilts were family projects because his father, mother, and wife hand quilted them.

October 4, 2013 to June 1, 2014

Quilts tell stories. Materials, techniques, and designs illuminate trade routes, technology, regional traits, and connections between quiltmakers. A quilt speaks for a silent and anonymous maker from the past. 

The quilting stitches themselves are an important part of a quilt’s story, yet that story may be hidden because stitching patterns are not easily “read.” For whole cloth quilts, the stitches whisper the story, as the subtle, tone-on-tone stitching veils the intricate patterns.

December 6, 2013 to August 31, 2014

Collecting is one of the most popular American pastimes. People love to acquire groups of related items, searching out rare and mint examples in pursuit of the elusive goal of assembling a comprehensive and premier collection.

Almost every type of object has its devotees. An Internet search for “collecting in America” reveals websites dedicated to candy containers, beer cans, road maps, and spark plugs, as well as traditional domains of fine art, stamps, and coins. Quilts, too, are another popular collecting area.

June 6, 2014 to February 28, 2015

In the 1920s and 1930s, quilt kits—ready-made sets of fabric components—were new on the market and were seen as a modern, time-saving way to make a well-designed bedcovering. Kits of die-cut pieces for appliqué and pieced quilts sold for as little as $2.85 – at a time when a gallon of milk cost about 50 cents and a loaf of bread about 10 cents. Kits saved the maker the time needed for tracing around templates and cutting out each design unit. Show-stopping Lone Star and Broken Star quilts, so common in the 1930s, even came packaged with all the diamond pieces sorted by color.

March 7, 2014 to November 29, 2014

Log Cabin quilt blocks are visually dynamic for a very simple reason: CONTRAST. In the three Log Cabin block designs, contrasting light and dark areas fall on either side of diagonal lines. 

And when many blocks are set together in a quilt, these lines move, quiver, ripple, dart, or spin across the surfaces. They are Dynamic! Dynamite! 

March 6, 2015 to August 26, 2015

Reflections of the Exotic East in American Quilts presents an historical overview of the influence of Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern design on American quiltmaking. It illustrates this influence through the Eastern motifs and materials used in quilts made between 1800 and 1950. Quilts from this period reflect the ongoing Western fascination with the "Orient," and also reveal the inaccurate and incomplete European and American vision of the mysterious and alluring “exotic” East.

September 5, 2014 to May 31, 2015

When was the last time you wrote your signature? What does your signature say about you? If in the digital age we don’t use signatures, how will we authentically represent ourselves? 

Right now, you are surrounded by “Signature Cloths,” quilts covered with distinctive, hand-written and embroidered autographs of ordinary people. These signatures illustrate shared purposes, new communities, individuality, and—at the most basic level—evidence of the signer’s existence.

March 6, 2015 to November 21, 2015

Since the American Revolution, when men marched off to war women mobilized at home. They raised money for relief, fed their families on limited rations, rallied patriotic spirits, celebrated victory, advocated for peace, built weapons, rolled bandages, comforted the wounded and mourned the dead: Women “covered” many of these activities with quilts. 

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