Friday, November 19, 2010

International Quilt Study Center and Museum

This one's for you Aunt Mary Lou!!!

After going to the ATB8 show in Lincoln, Nebraska last weekend, we stopped at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum which was recommended to me by Jan Austin. Quilting is another fiber art with a long history and I was interested in the fact that there was a museum about quilting. The place was more fantastic than I expected... and I don't even quilt anymore.

The museum was beautiful. They have a collection of about 3500 quilts, a large gallery space that has innovative exhibits (we saw one about doll quilts—the newest exhibit, "Marseille: White Corded Quilting" was opening a few hours after we were there so we didn't get to see it), a large restoration room, a gift shop with books, a reading room, and a virtual room with a life-sized screen that showed the quilts of their collection. There were multiple interactive computer displays and two audio rooms where people could tell their quilt stories or listen to other people’s. I was intrigued by the study focus of the museum. The restoration room had huge tables for quilts to be spread out and a viewing window for the public to watch. The computer exhibits in the virtual room were just wonderful as was the ability to look at the entire collection of quilts projected life-sized.

The building was beautiful with a long stairway along the glass exterior wall.

Childhood Treasures: Doll Quilts from the Ghormley Collection

I left with dreams of a similar space to celebrate, catalog, restore, and showcase tapestry. What better place than New Mexico since there is a long history of Hispanic, Native American, and European tapestry weaving here…

This visit brought up many questions for me (again) about fiber art, art vs. craft, professionalism, and funding for a project like this. This museum started with a large gift of quilts from a private donor and a promise from the University of Nebraska to maintain them. But Santa Fe is full of museums to all sorts of things, and perhaps a place like this devoted to furthering the art of tapestry could be successful in this state...

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