Quilt House to Display First Major Central Asian Exhibit

Quilt House to Display First Major Central Asian Exhibit

“Sacred Scraps: Quilt and Patchwork Traditions of Central Asia” will open at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, 1523 N. 33rd St., on May 12, becoming the first major museum exhibition to present the patchwork and quilting traditions of this region.

Guest-curated by scholar Christine Martens in partnership with IQSCM Curator of International Collections Marin Hanson, the exhibit will feature traditional textiles from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

“We are proud to be the first museum devoting a major exhibition to the quilts and patchwork of Central Asia,” said Leslie Levy, Ardis and Robert James executive director of Quilt House. “These colorful and vibrant pieces will appeal to visitors of all kinds, who will see both familiar and unfamiliar patterns and imagery throughout the gallery.”
Women from this region of vast deserts, arid steppes and dramatic mountain ranges have long pieced and quilted items for both everyday use and celebratory events. In addition to clothing and bedding, patchwork also served as a protective charm or talisman, believed to guard against sorcery, illness and malevolent spirits. Illuminating the function of patchwork as an amuletic device in Central Asia, provides a unique and intimate glimpse into the lives and traditions of a large but little known swath of the Islamic world.

This exhibition has grown from several years of Martens’ field research and collecting in Central Asia on behalf of the museum.

“Working with Chris Martens has been an exciting and educational experience,” Hanson said. “Our close partnership with her has resulted in our being able to showcase textiles from a part of the world many people have yet to be exposed to.”

Martens will provide an in-depth tour of the exhibition on June 2 at 5:30 p.m., which will include insight into her research and collecting efforts. The museum will offer free admission to the galleries and light refreshments from 4-7 p.m. in conjunction with Lincoln’s First Friday Artwalk.

Since being established at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1997, the museum’s collection has grown to include examples of quiltmaking from more than 50 countries with pieces dating back to the 1600s. In recent years, the IQSCM has focused particularly on international acquisitions, with a goal of having an inclusive collection that represents the breadth of traditions throughout history and across cultures.

“Representing worldwide traditions is a major aspect of our mission,” Levy said. “This exhibition is another way in which we can share global quilts with our global audiences.” A catalog of the exhibition will be available for purchase from the Quilt House Gift Shop.

The International Quilt Study Center & Museum is located on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus. It is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and on Sundays 1-4 p.m. May through October.

The International Quilt Study Center & Museum’s mission is to build a global collection and audience that celebrate the cultural and artistic significance of quilts. Established in 1997, the International Quilt Study Center is an academic program of the Department of Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Visit for more information about the museum and to learn about current and upcoming exhibitions.

About the image: Patchwork (kurak) wall hanging made by an unknown maker in Uzbekistan circa 1870-1880. IQSCM 2015.058.0006.