Nestled between the University of Nebraska campus and the western edge of the university’s East Campus lies the International Quilt Museum. Its sleepy presence is anything, but dull.
Join us as we explore this exciting museum.
Welcome to the World’s Largest Publicly Held Quilt Collection
The International Quilt Museum stands symbolically as a celebration of the cultural and artistic significance of quilts. They house over 6,000 quilts – dating from the early 1700s to the present and representing more than 60 countries.
Their mission is to build a global collection that is open to everyone who wants to appreciate the art. They proclaim there is something for everyone to gain from a visit. So, let’s take an inside look at what you can experience!
The Quilt Museum’s Structure
The structure was built in 2008 after the design was chosen from a competition. A fantastic amount of consideration was put into the architectural concepts of the museum. Specific elements of the structure were designed to eternally memorialize quilt making.
These details and symbols are important as they embody the three layers of a quilt.
- The towering glass with linear bars with frosted glass, that make up the front of the building, represents the quilt stitches.
- The inside was constructed to express the batting and includes the workroom and storage room.
- We all know that a quilt must have a quilt back. This is symbolized by the back-of-house support areas and offices.
Other elements were added to drive the quilt theme home. The Reception Hall is shaped like the eye of a needle and the brick façade and relief around the building were created to look like quilt blocks. Even the flooring inside of the building relates to quilting!
As a quilt lover, visiting this museum is like a dream come true…and we haven’t even gotten to the quilts yet.
Take the Virtual Tour with AccuQuilt
In the reception area, there is currently a quilt hanging which stands as a reminder of the COVID pandemic.
The Lincoln Quilters’ Guild COVID Sewists created over 35,000 masks, as well as other personal protective equipment (PPE) for over 75 organizations during the height of the pandemic. They created the quilt, “Mask Up!”, to document the history of the pandemic.
This quilt not only has around 90 masks sewn on it, but takes the shape of a mask. It was created by over 100 different sewists, in Lincoln, Nebraska, and was recently donated to the museum - so its history can be preserved for years to come.
Walking into the museum’s gallery, you’ll find yourself in warm, dimly lit rooms. Their walls are covered in beautiful, historical quilts. It’s mindboggling to think that this museum houses quilts that are hundreds of years old. Familiar blocks and designs greet your eyes like an old friend.
At AccuQuilt, we often talk about loving the “story behind the quilt.” If only we could touch the quilts and be drawn back in time to hear how, and why, each one was made.
It certainly would be an incredible experience but being able to view them is wonderful just the same. You are just blown away by the skill level and beauty before you.
You are going to love the experience when you watch AccuQuilt’s virtual tour.
Thank you to Carolyn Ducey, International Quilt Museum's Curator of Collections, for taking AccuQuilt on this amazing tour.
The AccuQuilt Team’s International Quilt Museum Experience
Going to the museum is a fantastic experience packed full of not just quilts, but information. Don’t take my word for it, though. Let’s hear what Lynn and Erica have to say.
AccuQuilt’s Corporate Marketing Specialist
“I was fascinated by the stories surrounding the quilts – who made them, where and when, and how they came to be a part of the museum collection.
Seeing behind the scenes was certainly the most exciting part of the visit. Especially getting the chance to put on gloves and learn how they fold quilts. Folding the wool Soldier’s Quilt from 1700 with the Curator, closely followed by seeing an amazing, crazy quilt laid out in their photography room, was incredible!
Going to the museum really reinforced what I already know…you really, really need to label your quilts! Also, learning all the details that go into storing the quilts was wonderful – including that you should not stack your quilts! The ones on the bottom will get creases that are basically impossible to get out.”
AccuQuilt’s Chief Brand and Product Officer
“As a quilter, exposure to the museum’s amazing quilt collections gets me thinking how I can translate the motifs that stand out to me in my own quilting. I loved getting the opportunity to don the white gloves and fold the wool soldiers’ quilt from the 1700's. That was my favorite part of the visit. Top 10 experience!
I found the whole day to be fascinating in terms of everything we learned; however, in addition, I gained the realization of the importance of sharing what we learned with the world. I was surprised to learn they started their collection by focusing on quilting as a “U.S. only” tradition, but they quickly realized that quilting is all over the world. I loved it when Carolyn said something along the lines of “quilting is evidence that we’re all connected.”
We were given a glimpse into what’s involved with hanging a show at the museum. I think it would be interesting to shoot a documentary film going through that whole process. Sounds pretty intense! Patience required!”
One of the best things about the International Quilt Museum is that, when you plan the right visit, you can set up a special behind-the-scenes tour too! So, be sure to think ahead if you want to experience all of The International Quilt Museum!
Quilt Conservation: International Quilt Museum Style
To conserve your family’s heirlooms, there are simple things you can do to ensure they survive for generations to come. Follow these tips to give your quilts a nice, long life:
- Deter pests by keeping the storage area clean by vacuuming.
- Maintain proper temperature and humidity. So, that means you don’t want to store them in your attic or basement.
- Keep your quilts away from light. All light will fade your fabric.
- Don’t wash quilts that you want to preserve. Washing can cause abrasion and colors can bleed.
- Be sure to properly store your precious quilts. They recommend you protect them from contact with wood or cardboard by lining them with acid-free tissue or cotton muslin sheeting.
- Be sure to refold your quilts periodically as well.
You can view the museum’s process just like the AccuQuilt team! For details on how to store your quilts, be sure to check out the International Quilt Museum’s Care and Conservation section for more details!
Go on a Virtual Tour with AccuQuilt
Join Pam, Erica, and Lynn as they take you on a virtual tour of the International Quilt Museum! You are not going to want to miss this experience.
They will give you an exciting inside look at the museum, the storage room, folding a historical quilt, show you how to translate historical quilts using AccuQuilt dies, and more.
Watch this video to take the tour!
Thank you to the International Quilt Museum for the opportunity to film there! And thank you to our readers for joining us on this wonderful journey!
We would love to hear what you thought about this experience in the comments below!