No... not the one with the snakes... but the one at the very end of the movie where after all the excitement, the ark is finally, and some might add sadly, hauled off to be placed deep inside the bowels of a museum. The camera takes us past rows and rows of lonely treasures stored in nondescript crates and boxes...
Well, this week... I finally got to live my museum treasure-hunt moment!
My academic research (more on that below) allowed me access deep inside the bowels of the International Quilt Studies Center & Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. Yet, rather than the sad and lonely final journey of the Lost Ark, my trek into the collection archive was lively, special and quite simply, fantastic!
|International Quilt Studies Center & Museum, Lincoln, NE|
|Deep inside the collection archives of the International Quilt Studies Center, Lincoln, Neb.|
So, after months of intensive study and discovery, I finally made the trek to Lincoln and was given the priceless opportunity to see (and touch! with gloves, of course) specific quilts I've so far only seen in books. The most interesting part of this viewing was the chance to see the actual colors and the fabrics used in each quilt. Over the years, these quilts have been photographed and reproduced and printed many, many times, but not always with accurate color, and mostly without much photographic detail. So it was a surprise to discover that a few sections of some quilts that I thought were white, or pale colors based on the images in books, were actually detailed, and highly creative, printed fabrics. It was also very cool to be able to see the detail of the stitches up close, because as you study these tiny stitches, you can't help but think of the quilter as she sat and moved her needle up and down. And this is especially poignant as some of the quilts I studied are well over 100 years old.
The other truly special part about seeing these quilts up close and personal is the opportunity to see the backing. Many of the quilt backs can be just as interesting as the quilt top. Nowadays, we just buy extra-wide fabric (104 or 120 inches wide) to cover the entire back without a cut or a stitch needed - so handy. But these quilt backs have a great many pieces stitched together and therefore, the opportunity to see them helps shape the quilt's whole story.
The staff at IQSC was great to work with and I appreciated all the preparation on their part, as well as their guidance and time I was granted. I also have to mention that the husband --- who also happens to be a professional photographer (and I must also point out the one who did most of the driving on the car trip) --- was also allowed to accompany me in the viewing area and he took these great pics.
For my thesis (and a semi-related book), I'll be writing about global art trends and challenge conventional notions that Western art, motifs and patterns influence the East by documenting more precisely how influence, commerce, and art, has traveled from the East to the West and vice versa for centuries.
|Kim Taylor, left, Collections Manager with IQSC, and Teresa Wong, researcher, |
studying historical quilts from the IQSC collection.
|Photo of the exhibition "Posing with Patchwork" on view at the |
International Quilt Studies Center & Museum in Lincoln.
|This photo shows a woman sewing a block featured in the quilt hanging next to it.|
Here's a picture of one my favorite quilts from a second exhibition on view. The exhibition features the work of a Nebraska man - an engineer - who one day was critical of the accuracy of the points (or perhaps the lack thereof) on a quilt his wife was making. As he criticized, his wife told him that if he thought he could do it better, he should do it himself! hmmm... So, what may seem like a common exchange between two married people, began the unlikely journey of 50 years of quiltmaking for Ernest Haight where he perfected ways to strip piece and machine quilt. Very cool collection.
|This is one of the quilts on display from the "Ernest Haight Half Century of Quiltmaking" on view inside galleries of the International Quilt Studies Center.|
I hope this is the first of many museum moments to come!
Please leave me a comment.