Major Collections

The Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection

The Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection

To view quilts from the Dillow collection go to Search the Collections, scroll down to the IQSC Collection field and select "Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection" from the drop-down box.

The International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was honored with the gift of 275 quilts with an estimated value of more than 1.2 million dollars from the estate of collectors Sara Rhodes Dillow and Byron Dillow, M.D. of Fremont, Nebraska. The gift, jointly announced in November, 2008 by museum director Patricia Crews and University of Nebraska Foundation president Clarence Castner, is the second largest gift of quilts to the center, following only that of the first quilt collection gift from Robert and Ardis James to help start the IQSC.

The Dillows also provided major support toward the Center's capital campaign and established an endowed fund, The Byron and Sara Dillow Excellence Fund, through the NU foundation for ongoing support of the Center. In addition, they contributed funds to build the museum's Dillow Conservation Work Room. "The Dillows have established a legacy of service to education in Nebraska and to the international study and preservation of quilts and quiltmaking tradition," stated Crews. "The value of these quilts is immense, not only for their beauty and historic value, but for the endless research opportunities they will provide to our students."

Numerous quilts included in the gift are distinctive examples of early nineteenth century antique chintz, a particular area of Mrs. Dillow's interest. Several of these quilts were showcased in the exhibition Chintz Applique: From Imitation to Icon.Another strength of the Dillow Collection is in examples of eighteenth century French quilting with 20 pieces representing exquisite French whitework quilting and wholecloth quilts made of fine French textiles. Many other quilts of note include Baltimore Album quilts and rare palampores. The Dillows also collected the works of contemporary studio quilters, including Michael James and Ruth McDowell.

The gift includes a Dillow family quilt considered by center curatorial staff as one of their finest examples of a Princess Feather pattern. "The remarkable generosity of this couple is underscored by this donation of a valuable family object to our study collection," said Carolyn Ducey, Curator of Collections at the center.

Sara Rhodes Dillow, a recipient of the University of Nebraska's Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award, was internationally recognized as a quilter, collector, author, and leader in the area of quilt history and preservation. She was instrumental in the documentation of publically held quilts in the state of Nebraska and was tireless in her commitment to the establishment and growth of the International Quilt Study Center. Among her many accomplishments, Dillow helped start the Nebraska State Quilt Guild and served as its first president. Sara graduated in 1958 from Beatrice High School and the University of Nebraska in 1962 with a degree in home economics. Sara married Dr. Byron M. Dillow in 1962 and he enthusiastically participated in his wife's interest in quilts until his death on Sept. 12, 2002. Sara continued her passion for quilts and support of the mission of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum until her unexpected death February 8, 2008.