An Evolving Vision: From the Studio


In 2022, the International Quilt Museum celebrates 25 years. The 1997 donation of the 1000-piece Ardis and Robert James Collection to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln established the IQM. For the past quarter century, the James Collection has formed the museum’s core, its heart.

The IQM inherited the Jameses’ ambitious concept of what a quilt collection could be: “an absolutely comprehensive collection of quilts from all over the world.” We have also expanded upon it, sharing the collection with the world through research, interpretation, and exhibition. We have gratefully embraced the Jameses’ evolving vision and made it our own.

From the Studio

The culturally and socially revolutionary decades of the 1960s and ‘70s encouraged experimentation and exploration. In the quilt world, artists, often academically trained in studio art or textile design, began to create new work that transcended the limits of traditional quiltmaking, incorporating a variety of materials and techniques, including surface embellishment and textural stitching, and exploring optical elements of light, dimension, and scale.

Ardis and Robert James embraced this new development and began purchasing innovative studio quilts in 1983.  Michael Kile, a San Francisco quilt dealer, and Penny McMorris, a corporate art curator, provided expertise and guidance, helping the Jameses to build a significant group of early studio quilts. The Jameses aimed not only to form the broadest, most representative collection, but also to share their interest with others, encouraging them to appreciate and begin collections of their own. They opened their home to artists, curators, and potential fellow collectors. Now, exhibited nearly 40 years later, these selections from the Ardis and Robert James Collection stand as a tribute to the sophisticated eye of Kile and Mc Morris and to the bold vision of the Jameses. They possess a timeless quality that defines them as masterpieces of their medium.

More Info

Lincoln, Nebraska and online
Venue Info

International Quilt Museum
1523 N. 33rd St. 
Lincoln, NE 68583
United States

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