Stumbling upon a book of Nancy Crow's improvisational quilts over a decade ago got me interested in quilts and art quilts. It was a thrill for me to experience the visual intensity of her quilts in person at the International Quilt Study Center when I was in Lincoln in June.

The building is very attractive. The twelve million dollar facility was privately funded. Contributions from quilting guilds all over the world are recognized on panels on the first level.

The IQSC has two large areas for seminars, bees, or other events. I wish it had more than the two upstairs gallery spaces. The curators have done a nice job incorporating complementary paintings and prints from the Sheldon Art Gallery, and baskets and pottery from the anthropology collections of the Nebraska State Museum to enhance understanding of quilt design and construction.

You can watch the work in the quilt conservation area through a huge window on the first level. Later in the summer the virtual gallery and computerized quilt design programs will come online at the center's website. There are two booths for making audiovisual recordings of quilt stories to be archived. If I made a quilt for a grandchild, for example, I could make a recording about the quilt. In theory, my great-great grandchildren could access that recording in the distant future. You could also record something telling what you know about your great-great grandmother's quilt. I could tell the story of my Kansas storm quilt.

There was an all black quilt from Japan that blew me away, and one from India with a totally different type of stitching. One group of quilts explored the relationship between quiltmaking and scherenschnitte papercutting.

Listening to the comments of the men and women in the gallery was interesting. Obviously, some of them had planned their vacation travel through Lincoln specifically to visit the IQSC. The men visitors were not just humoring their wives. I could tell they were very informed collectors, and one man was definitely a quilter himself. The center will be good for Lincoln's economy.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

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