Lincoln Nebraska, home of quilts. And ties.

We have had a wonderful day here in Lincoln. We started the day with a guided tour at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, built in 2007 thanks to many, many personal donations. It all started when quilt collectors Ardis and Robert James were looking for a museum to hold their significant quilt collection.  No one would guarantee that the collection would stay together.  This is how museums often work – they take an entire collection, keep what they need to complete their own, and sell the rest to other museums.   The James’ did not want their collection split up in this way.

Both of them are from Nebraska originally, and they heard that the University of Nebraska had an interest in their quilts. The International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was formed in 1997. Their original gift was 950 quilts, plus a substantial pledge of financial support, in order to create this amazing building and centre for historical quilt research.  The new building was opened last year (2008), and it’s absolutely beautiful!

IQSG museum

Do you see the white sculpture at the entrance?  It is meant to represent the threads we find on our sewing room floors! It’s neat to sit inside of, too.

Threads sculpture

The first floor entrance gallery is a room full of computers.  There’s a display of quilts from their now quite substantial collection that is projected at life-size onto a screen.  Very high-definition pictures of their quilts.  Computer terminals will allow visitors to design their own quilts, select fabric, etc, and e-mail them home (or to their grandmothers!). I could have spent the whole morning in that room alone.

On the second floor, the exhibit space. We saw some absolutely wonderful quilts — a show of crazy quilts, the “special mention” award quilt from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair (the maker didn’t win because the judges were more traditionally inclined than the show organizers. All the same, this quilt best represented the theme.)

On the third floor are offices, a reading room, and conference room. Also, more quilts on the walls, made by Hortense Beck from Nebraska. She started quilting at 60 years of age and, with her interest in history, decided to reproduce some of the most extraordinary quilts in America. Many of them are in the IQSC collection, but are not taken out to show very often. Because of Hortense’s work, we can see these quilts. And they are extraordinary — applique and tiny quilting stitches.  Hortense is still alive at 90 something, but not quilting anymore.  She has left a significant legacy.

There are so many stories contained in this building, I was delighted.  We had the chance to meet briefly with the curator, Carolyn Ducey, and I hope to continue the contact with her. And return one day to see some more quilts!

We sang for the Nebraska state quilt conference this evening, and it went very well.  We were VERY well received, and I think many of them had no idea what they were in for! They sang along and did the “choreography” in “Shop Hop” very well.  We loved them!

Before the banquet was over, we were asked to look under our chairs.  Nothing under mine, but John had an envelope under his.  Many quilters were wearing ties, and whoever had the envelope at the table got all the ties from that table!  John has been very happy with his “new” life as the Singing Quilter’s Husband, in that he NEVER  has to wear a tie.  Adjacent tables found out that he had won the ties from our table, and soon ties were coming in fast and furious from everyone else.  I don’t know if he got all the ties from the entire room of 300 people, but he certainly got a lot!


and directions for making a tie quilt.  John has made two quilts to date.  Perhaps this will be his next…..  I did get this picture of him, though, wearing one of the ties — you may never see this again!

John tied

John tied

After we finished, it was pyjama night.  (The hotel was worried about this….) And show and tell.  Tomorrow I’m teaching two classes of my machine reverse applique. Hopefully I’ll have some new pictures of students’ work.

We are having lots of fun here in Lincoln.  We’d like to stay.



2 Responses to “Lincoln Nebraska, home of quilts. And ties.”

  1. Katie Lewis Says:


    Do you know who the thread sculpture outside the museum was done by? Because it’s really interesting and would like to see what other work has been done by this designer. Thanks.

    • singingquilter Says:

      Hi, Katie: I think I still have this information at home, but I won’t be there for another month! I’ll look it up for you then. Before that, though, perhaps the museum website would have that information?

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