Great Coverups: Art Center premieres quilt exhibit

"Lone Star" Pattern Quilt for Special Occasion created by Sarah Rider Bumgardner in the 1840s will feature in the Muscatine Art Center's Great Coverups exhibit.

MUSCATINE, Iowa–During the icy cold months of winter, few things hold quite as much appeal as a quilt does. However, in the hands of a skilled sewer, a quilt can serve both as a warm blanket and as a beautiful piece of art. Beginning Feb. 6, the Muscatine Art Center will display a new exhibit titled Great Coverups, featuring the work of some of Muscatine’s greatest historical quilters.

Great Coverups will include approximately 35 quilts from the Muscatine Art Center’s permanent collection, some from as early as the 1840s. These quilts will showcase a wide variety of patterns and styles, including crazy quilts, log cabins, flying geese, grandmother’s flower gardens, pineapples, nine patches, and sunbonnet girls, and signature or friendship quilts, to name a few. Of particular note, Ruth Kadle’s quilt created from her husband and stepson’s Civil War commemorative items will feature in the display.

In addition to these quilts, The Great Coverup will also feature 40 or so prairie style dresses from as early as the 1850s, showcasing another form of sewing artistry. The display case in the front of the museum will also include some sewing and needlework related memorabilia and works of art, including the Art Center’s prized drawing by Vincent Van Gogh of a girl knitting.

Originally planned to coincide with the Muscatine Melon Patchers Quilt Guild’s 2021 quilt show, the Art Center chose to move ahead and continue with their exhibition even though the quilt show will take place later than originally scheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Muscatine Art Center Director Melanie Alexander hopes the exhibit will serve as an enjoyable prelude to the quilt show, and that it will appeal to peoples’ interest in local history.

Before closing at the beginning of January, the Art Center’s Till Death: Wedding and Mourning Traditions exhibit proved quite popular, as it examined real fashion trends from Muscatine’s past and told the stories of former residents from several time periods. Through The Great Coverup exhibit, Alexander feels guests can continue to feed their love of history by learning about the significance of handcrafted quilts in days gone by, as well as a little about the Muscatine area residents who created them. “I think this has the same appeal,” she emphasized.

The Great Coverup exhibit will remain on display in the upper and lower levels of the Muscatine Art Center’s Stanley Gallery through April 4. Alexander encourages everyone interested in seeing it to come to the museum on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., a Thursday between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., or a Saturday or Sunday between 1 and 4 p.m. The Art Center requests all visitors wear a mask and follow social distancing requirements while visiting.