American Quilts: Selections from the Winterthur Collection

May 22–September 6, 2010

One of the world’s finest collections of early American quilts will be on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum May 22–September 6, 2010. This is the first-ever travelling exhibition of Winterthur’s quilts, featuring stunning examples of exceptional artistry which have never been exhibited before. American Quilts: Selections from the Winterthur Collection documents women’s political, social, and cultural lives in the formative period of the early American republic (1760–1850).

The more than 40 stunning quilts in the exhibition are drawn from Winterthur’s collection of nearly 300. Through skillful needlework and careful color coordination, the makers transform an array of fabrics, both common and exotic, into extraordinary works of art. The quilts engage graphic patterning and subtle color harmony, but also tell stories from popular literature and politics, or feature individual scraps of fabric that travelled as part of the global economy. Quilts, expressing religious faith, celebrating marriages, and supporting political views, provide a rare opportunity to interpret the early American republic’s economy and politics through the social networks of women.

American Quilts: Selections from the Winterthur Collection is sponsored by the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Friends of Art. The exhibition is organized by Winterthur. The exhibition is curated by Linda Eaton of Winterthur and organized at the Milwaukee Art Museum by Mel Buchanan, Liz Flaig, and Catherine Sawinski.


Rebecca Scattergood Savery, Pieced Quilt, 1827 (detail). Winterthur Museum, 1997.22. Museum purchase with funds provided by the estate of Mrs. Samuel Pettit and additional funds by Mr. Samuel Pettit in memory of his wife.