Discovering the Collection: A 20-Year Journey
How do you honor a 20-year career studying, preserving, and collecting quilts? By allowing the graduate student who became a curator the opportunity to showcase her work in an exhibition we can see the impact she has had. Carolyn Ducey was a grad student at Indiana University, when she applied to study quilts with Dr. Patricia Crews at the University of Nebraska. Shortly afterward she was hired as the first curator of the Center, later to become International Quilt Study Center & Museum (IQSCM.)
Carolyn and Sara Dillow (the first Acquisitions Coordinator) worked together to gather some of the earliest quilts in the collection, pre-1850. Sara was also responsible for the first international additions from Kathryn Berenson, 30 white wholecloth quilts, which opened their eyes to the possibility of international textiles. At the unexpected deaths of Sara and her husband in 2008, the Bryon and Sara Dillow Collection was added to the museum.
Besides the Dillow Collection, the exhibition also featured quilts from Johnathan Holstein, a few of his extensive Amish collection found their way to IQSCM. Naturally, Ducey featured quilts from the Robert and Ardis James Collection, the donor of the original 1,000 founding quilts. The James’ philanthropy and interest in the quilt house has been a backbone for the museum for the similar 20 years. Of her work at IQSCM Carolyn Ducey said, “I’m proud of my role in building a collection that preserves worldwide textile traditions.”