Major Collections

The Ardis and Robert James Collection of Antique and Contemporary Quilts

The Ardis and Robert James Collection of Antique and Contemporary Quilts

To view quilts from the James collection go to Search the Collections, scroll down to the IQSC Collection field and select "Ardis and Robert James Collection Collection" from the drop-down box.

In 1979, Robert and Ardis James of Chappaqua, New York, began collecting quilts. What started as a hobby developed, over the next twenty years, into a collection of more than 1,000 remarkable quilts. In 1997, the Jameses donated the bulk of their collection to the University of Nebraska, forming the nucleus of the International Quilt Study Center Collections.

The world-renowned collection includes both antique quilts ranging in date from the late 1700s to the present and contemporary quilts, made both in the United States and throughout the world.

One of the largest segments of the collection is Amish and Mennonite quilts from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, from Ohio, Indiana and other Midwestern states. Quilts from New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Southern states comprise some of the earliest and most valuable examples in the James Collection. In addition, more than 100 quilts in the collection represent contemporary quilts, including works by Pauline Burbidge, Nancy Crow, Michael James, Jan Myers-Newbury, Terrie Hancock Mangat and Faith Ringgold.

Major American museums, including The Textile Museum in Washington D.C.; the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City; the Museum of Our National Heritage in Lexington, MA; and the Museum of the American Quilter in Paducah, KY, all have exhibited quilts from the collection. The stature of these museums and their desire to exhibit quilts from the James Collection indicate the quality and depth of the collection.

In 1998, the James Collection was named one of "the 100 top treasures" in the United States by "Art and Antiques Magazine" (March issue). In August 2000 the Ardis and Robert James Collection was designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as an official project of the Save America's Treasures program, in the company of other American treasures including the Star Spangled Banner.