'Uncovered: The Ken Burns Collection' Opens

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'Uncovered: The Ken Burns Collection' Opens

January 8, 2018

The International Quilt Study Center & Museum will display quilts from the private collection of American filmmaker Ken Burns Jan. 19 – May 13. “Uncovered: The Ken Burns Collection,” will feature 28 never-before-displayed quilts from the Oscar nominated and Emmy Award winning documentarian.

“It was an honor to work with Mr. Burns on curating an exhibition of his personal quilt collection to provide a truly unique insight into this extraordinary storyteller,” said Leslie C. Levy, Ardis and Robert James Executive Director of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum. “Just as Mr. Burns’s films give us an insight into the filmmaker, he appreciates how quilts not only tell their own story, but what they also tell us about the quilt maker.”

Burns is renowned as America’s story teller; his quilt collecting is truly an extension of his passion for storytelling. This collection exemplifies the shared understanding of the simple, yet powerful ways in which quilts have been used to reflect personal, social and national milestones.

For Burns, each quilt represents a moment in time and American history. He is less concerned with the provenance and genealogy of his quilts than with the visual impact they have on the viewer, and their implicit connections to stories.

“I've spent my entire professional life asking this essentially simple question: Who are we? Who are those strange and complicated people who like to call themselves Americans?” Burns said. “As an avocation, as a hobby, I have pursued collecting what I think is the cleanest, simplest and most authentic expression of who we are as a people.”

Displayed alongside his anecdotal thoughts about quilts, collecting, and art and authenticity, the quilts will spark dialogue and remind people—he hopes—of their shared humanity.

Special programs will be held in support of the exhibition throughout its run. The 1st Nebraska Volunteers Brass Band will perform on Feb. 2, at 5:30 p.m. The musical ensemble provides living history, education and musical entertainment by portraying the band of the original 1st Nebraska Volunteer Infantry Regiment wearing Union infantry uniforms and playing authentic musical arrangements taken from actual Civil War band books. Admission to the concert and museum will be free from 4-7 p.m. as part of First Friday.

The museum will also hold three screenings of Ken Burns films in February, March and April. Visit www.quiltstudy.org for more information about the times, dates, locations and films featured in the series.

A feature on the collection and exhibition is in production by NET and will air in 2018.

“As a collector, I'm looking for something that reflects my country back at me,” Burns said. “Quilts rearrange my molecules when I look at them. There's an enormous satisfaction in having them close by. I'm not a materialist. There are too many things in the world, and we know that the best things in life aren't things. Yet there are a few things that remind me of the bigger picture. We live in a rational world. One and one always equals two. That's okay, but we actually want—in our faith, in our families, in our friendships, in our love, in our art—for one and one to equal three. And quilts do that for me.”

This exhibition was made possible through funding from the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. The Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency, has supported this exhibition through its matching grants program funded by the Nebraska Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Visit www.nebraskaartscouncil.org for more information.

Additional support for the exhibition and programs comes from Friends of International Quilt Study Center & Museum, Robert S. & Mildred M. Baynard Charitable Trust, Mary Ann Beavers Fund for Public Programming & Outreach and Mark & Diann Sorensen Fund for Public Programming & Outreach.

Located on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's East Campus at 33rd and Holdrege streets, the International Quilt Study Center & Museum has the world's largest publicly held quilt collection, dating from the early 1700s to present and representing more than 50 countries. The museum's mission is to build a global collection and audience that celebrate the cultural and artistic significance of quilts. The museum will celebrate its 10th anniversary throughout 2018.

For images and cutlines of some of the quilts appearing in “Uncovered: The Ken Burns Collection,” visit https://unl.box.com/s/rkd81y77jmfwrlxmsfuzjmf6t31zymol.