New Gallery Exhibit: Hortense Beck Collection

Apr 16, 2015 8:48:47 AM / by AccuQuilt

We are honored to welcome the Hortense Beck Quilt Collection to the AccuQuilt Gallery. The exhibit is a fascinating collection of reproduction quilts from the late Hortense Horton Beck (1920-2009). Surprisingly, Beck didn't start sewing and quilting until she was 60 years old, and it all began with learning how to appliqué. Beck spent 30 years replicating historical appliqué album quilts, later donating her large quilt collection to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum (IQSCM) at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, NE. The IQSCM is also home to the largest publicly held quilt collection in the world. Although Beck made these quilts for her own enjoyment, she also wanted others to enjoy and appreciate them. With the donation to the IQSCM, her quilts are now available to a wider audience. Seven quilts from Beck's collection measuring over six feet in height are included in the exhibit, which runs through May 25. Read more about Beck and her inspiration below.

Hortense Beck Quilt Collection

Hortense Beck combines an indomitable spirit and a love of history in her amazing reproduction quilts. Inspired by quilts she saw during museum visits and in publications, Beck recreated some of the most important quilts in American collections.

Beck began quiltmaking at the age of 60, after taking a few classes from quilt artist Chris Edmonds. She explains, “I loved her appliqué, and I took some lessons from her. I fell in love with learning how to appliqué, and I never went back to anything else.” Beck did not enjoy quilting, the final step that holds the three layers of the quilt together. Instead, she turned to local quilters, whom Beck was careful to acknowledge on many of her quilt labels.

Beck replicated several quilts originally made by African-American quiltmakers, including the Tennessee Valley Authority quilts. She admired these quilts as much for their beauty as their history, in this case, a story entwined with the history of the Great Depression and the New Deal.

Congress created the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933 to provide electricity, flood control and new jobs for rural farm workers. The Great Depression hit the people in the Tennessee Valley particularly hard. In addition to struggling with drought, depleted soil and poor harvests, malaria had afflicted one third of the residents.

Ruth Clement Bond, the wife of a TVA administrator, collaborated with women living in the Wheeler Dam Construction Village. She designed three pictorial quilts celebrating the growing opportunities for African Americans through the New Deal, and women in the community created the quilts.


Works by Hortense Beck in the AccuQuilt Gallery


strawberries copy
Strawberry (1983) by Hortense Beck


stars copy
Flag (1986) by Hortense Beck


bird copy
Bird of Paradise (1988) by Hortense Beck


cherry copy
Cherry Trees and Robins (1992) by Hortense Beck

Visitors can view the Hortense Beck Exhibit at AccuQuilt’s Gallery Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Admission to the Gallery is free. Visitors can also call 888.258.7913 to schedule a tour or email


Topics: AccuQuilt Gallery, AccuQuilt Gallery Exhibits, Hortense Beck Exhibit


Written by AccuQuilt


Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Topic

See all

Recent Posts