State Historical Museum Opens Quilt Exhibit June 25th; Highlights Include Three Quilts from its Mary Barton Collection

For immediate release June 15, 2005



Jeff Morgan, (515) 281-3858,

(DES MOINES, Iowa) – The State Historical Museum will open a new exhibit this month featuring 16 selections from its world-renowned quilt collection–including three quilts from Indianola, Iowa, native and nationally-recognized quilt and fabrics expert Mary Barton.

“Rural Remembrances: Iowa’s Quilt Legacy” opens June 25, 2005, in conjunction with the museum’s Quilting Festival, which offers a wide range of events and activities for the entire family.

“The finest American quilts of the 20th century are works of great beauty,” State Historical Museum Director Curt Simmons said. “They tell our stories and, at the same time, they preserve history for future generations. We’ve selected 16 quilts, including three from our Mary Barton collection to recognize her status as one of the nation’s top quilt and fabric collectors of the 20th Century.”

Mary Barton (1917-2003) became a quilt historian with a national reputation for her uncanny ability to judge a quilt’s age and origin.

As a schoolgirl in Indianola, Iowa, Barton kept a scrapbook of fabrics she used in her sewing creations. But she did not turn to quilting until after her mother died in the 1960s. While going through her mother’s belongings, Barton found old quilts and fabrics that aroused her interest in quilt history and designing quilts. Her research and meticulous collecting of quilts, fabrics and contemporary sources of information provide valuable insight into the influences affecting the choices of quilt makers.

She was inducted into the Quilter's Hall of Fame in 1984 during the Sixth Continental Quilting Congress, where she was honored for her contributions “through her collecting, researching and sharing of information.” In 1999, her “Heritage Quilt” was recognized as one the 20th Century's 100 Best American Quilts.

“Rural Remembrances: Iowa’s Quilt Legacy” will run June 25-September 5, 2005, at the State Historical Museum, 600 E. Locust Street in the heart of Des Moines’ Historic East Village. Admission to the museum is free.

The Quilting Festival – from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 25, 2005–offers a number of activities for parents and children, including family quilting workshops, spinning and weaving demonstrations, quilting activities for children, a seed mosaics workshop, square dancers, barnyard stories, and a 2005 Year of the Barn and Family Farm Proclamation and Survey Information.

The Quilting Festival and exhibit are being presented in recognition of Governor Thomas Vilsack’s proclamation making 2005 the Year of the Family Farm and Barn.

In addition, the internationally-touring Eulenspiegel Puppet Theater Company will present “Hansel & Goosel” at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and puppetry workshops at 11:15 a.m. on June 25, 2005.

Written by playwright, Rebecca Gilman, this production uses the Grimm Brothers’ “Hansel and Gretel” as a starting point. The production features hand-dyed scenery and 15 puppets, including rod puppets, rod marionettes, a life-size flying gander and a threatening fox. Live music will be provided by legendary duo Bob and Kristie Black.

Tickets are $5 per person for each event. Seating is limited and reservations are strongly suggested. Please call Maureen Korte at 515.281.4132 or contact her at to order tickets.


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