The International Quilt Study Center and Museum will host a public opening of its newly expanded galleries on June 5.
The 13,200-square-foot expansion was made possible by a $7 million gift from the Robert and Ardis James Foundation. The Jameses were instrumental in founding the quilt center when they donated their extensive collection of quilts to the university in 1997 as well as the lead donation to build the museum, which opened in 2008. Robert A.M. Stern Architects of New York with Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture of Omaha designed the building and the expansion. Construction was overseen by Sampson Construction.
“The architects took a holistic approach to the expansion and created a gallery experience that looks, feels and flows as one,” said Leslie Levy, the quilt center’s director. “The expansive new gallery provides us flexibility in designing our future exhibitions. The additional storage space will give us room to grow our impressive and unique international collection. We are excited to incorporate this new space in our future growth.”
In addition to new gallery space, the expansion includes a new digital gallery and storage space for the museum’s growing international collection of quilts and patchwork. A private ribbon cutting will take place on June 12.
The museum will offer free admission from 3 to 8 p.m. June 5. The opening festivities will also include two special presentations.
Modern quiltmaker and author Sherri Lynn Wood will give a multimedia presentation of “Improvise! Creating, Quilting and Living Courageously” at 3:30 p.m. Attendees will leave with a fresh perspective on how to apply skills learned in life to their patchwork and vice versa. The presentation includes African-American quilts in the improvisational style, time-lapse process videos and quilts featured in her book “The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters.” Wood, an artist working in Oakland, California, will sign copies of her book before and after the presentation.
Quilt artist Leah Sorensen-Hayes will present “Quilting the Contours” at 5:30 p.m. Sorensen-Hayes will discuss the quilt projects she has been involved with over the past 15 years as Michael James’ studio assistant. Her talk will also touch on the development of her own work in the quilt studio.
Light refreshments will be served during the reception, which will also feature the grand opening of two new exhibitions: “Ambiguity and Enigma: Recent Quilts by Michael James” and “Getting to Know You.”
Michael James is recognized as a leader in the studio quilt movement that began in the 1970s. Today, he continues to create innovative quilts combining printed and painted fabrics with hand-engineered construction. James’ unique digitally developed fabrics, derived from elements of the natural and built environments, give form to his examinations and interpretations of human experience. James describes his studio quilts as visual poetry invested with layers of meaning. “Ambiguity and Enigma” will be his first solo exhibition at the museum.
“The upcoming exhibition of Michael James’ quilts illustrates his constantly evolving creative process,” said Carolyn Ducey, curator of collections. “I find these recent pieces incredibly compelling, with an expressive quality that draws a person into contemplating their own personal spaces. I think our viewers will appreciate James’ willingness to share his life experience at such a deep level.”
“Getting to Know You,” the inaugural exhibition in the expanded gallery, will feature 29 quilts representing the breadth of the center’s 4,500-plus-piece collection, which spans more than four centuries and 25 countries. The pieces in the exhibition were selected by the center’s curators, affiliated scholars and audience members, including UNL students and social media followers.
“We were excited for the opportunity to welcome feedback and input from our various audiences,” said Marin Hanson, curator of exhibitions. “We felt it was important when we expanded our museum that we also expand our understanding of the people who visit us virtually and physically to learn about quilts. At the same time, this is a chance for people to get to know our collection and our team better.”