December 1, 2016
Amish quilts have captivated quilt collectors and enthusiasts around the world since the 1970s. A new website offers an accurate and informative view on these beloved masterpieces.
The International Quilt Study Center & Museum launched “The Amish Story”, the second module on the museum’s World Quilts website. The ground-breaking World Quilts website, which launched in 2014, serves as a clearinghouse of in-depth and engaging information on the diversity of global quiltmaking practices with information gathered by the IQSCM and sister organizations, such as The Quilt Index and American Quilt Study Group.
“We are pleased to offer this latest installment to the World Quilt family,” said Leslie Levy, Ardis and Robert James Executive Director of Quilt House. “We hope our online visitors will gain a new appreciation for these fascinating quilts and the stories behind them. The website offers a fresh perspective and lesser known facts about Amish quilts and quiltmaking.”
The website serves as a companion to “Amish Quilts and the Crafting of Diverse Traditions”, which opened October 7 at the IQSCM. Both were guest-curated by Janneken Smucker, one of the foremost scholars of Amish quilts and a professor of digital history at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Smucker was the lead humanist, author, and curator for this multi-pronged humanities project. She drew from her years of research as well as from her recent book Amish Quilts: Crafting an American Icon (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013) to develop the exhibition and website, which is targeted at diverse public audiences.
“Amish Quilts and the Crafting of Diverse Traditions” and “World Quilts: The Amish Story” address the complex history of how Amish quilts left Amish farmsteads and became part of larger American culture. They contextualize the quilts within the art and collecting world of the late 20th century, consumer culture, tourism to “Amish country,” fashion and globalization.
The website and exhibition also showcase the diversity of Amish quiltmaking, featuring Amish quilts that diverge from the “old dark quilts,” including applique quilts, quilts made with commercially available patterns and friendship quilts.
This marks the first time that Amish quilts are presented in an exhibition or dedicated website in such a broad-based fashion, moving the objects beyond their mythical status as art objects into a richer, more nuanced and accessible understanding.
Funding for “World Quilts: The Amish Story” was made possible by Humanities Nebraska and the Robert and Ardis James Foundation.
View “The Amish Story” at http://worldquilts.quiltstudy.org/amishstory/.
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. April through October.
The museum's mission is to uncover the world through the cultural and artistic significance of quilts, and to research, acquire, and exhibit quilts in all their forms and expressions. 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 www.quiltstudy.org for more information about the museum and to learn about current and upcoming exhibitions.