Quilts were once left to gather cobwebs on guest beds in people's houses. But today they're increasingly the star attractions at many museums, vying for the spotlight with other objects. Quiltmaking is being recognized, at last, as an art in its own right.
Today's shows, exhibits, and festivals that celebrate the best quiltmakers are part of a broader trend. The number of quilt-makers in the U.S. has doubled in the past decade, reports the Wall Street Journal. The reason? New tools make quilt-making easier than ever.
With 3,000 quilts (forming the largest publicly held collection in the world), the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, Nebr., has exhibits and educational workshops yearround.
One such exhibit, "A Fairyland of Fabrics: The Victorian Crazy Quilt" is debuting this Friday. The special collection features 19 one-of-a-kind quilts from the Victorian era, the late 1800s and early 1900s. Lovingly called "Crazies," the quilts were made using irregular shapes and patterns with all sorts of different materials and textiles—things as varied as cigar ribbons, silk taffeta, and even shells. The resulting look is random, a clever deceit, as each quilt actually has a intricate design. In their time, the quilts were seen as the epitome of sophistication.
In addition to the new exhibit, which runs through October 25, the museum also has a display of quilts from 1870 to 1940, or the "modern age." Quilts, like other art, often reflect the sentiments of the time, and the ones in this exhibit display blocky, rigid patterns and characteristics of the colonial style.
The museum also hosts free guided tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11 a.m., including this Saturday.
33rd and Holdrege streets, Lincoln, Neb. Admission is $5; parking is free. Call 402/472-6549 or visit quiltstudy.org for more information.