Saturday, October 16, 2010

Afternoon in Philomath

The Benton County Historical Museum, Philomath, Oregon
Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the Benton County Historical Museum, meeting with the staff and discussing ideas for my show at the museum next year. I will be showing a big group of New York Beauties. It will be my first show, and it will be the first time the museum has a show from one private collection.

Rocky Mountain Road, c. 1880
Since 1951, the Benton County Historical Society has been preserving artifacts, photographs, and manuscripts. After Philomath citizens prevented the demolition of the 1867 Philomath College building and placed it on the National Register of Historic Places, The Society opened the building to the public in 1981 as a museum, research library and art gallery.

The main gallery space is the second floor auditorium, which to this day exists as a multi-purpose space. In addition to exhibitions, the space hosts meetings, lectures and tours. There is seating and a stage on one end of the hall, and an open space with a small video kiosk on the other end. There are large windows on both ends, with special UV filtering blinds to let in light but protect the artwork.

New York Beauty, c. 1930
You could display most anything in the space, and it would look good. But quilts look especially great in the space. They can hang a few quilts from the high, vaulted ceiling, and even display one flat in a big, covered display box. The space also has two covered display cases, one on each side, built in to the wall. The wall display cases will be perfect for ephemera, and I think I've collected enough related artifacts to make good use of the cases.

Mountain Mist New York Beauty Pattern, 1930
I showed several quilts to Irene Zenev, Mark Tolonen, Mary Gallagher, and Liz Hoffman, and discussed ideas with them about how the show would come together. We talked about the display, storyline, points of historical interest, and agreed to do a few guided tours. I asked if it would be OK for me to put together a small printed catalog, and they liked the idea.

Rocky Mountain Road, c. 1875
This whole project will be a good reason to do more research on these quilts, document them, and get some better quality professional photography done. We all see it as a unique opportunity to assemble a group of quilts representing 150 years of American quilt history in a pattern, and all from one private collection. I have a feeling the show could travel to other locations in the future.


  1. Oh I wished I lived your side of the pond and to be able to see these beauties. I hope when the time comes for the exhibition you will share more photos.
    Sue in the UK

  2. Hi Sue,

    There are several on my web site:

    I have 26 New York Beauties & variations on that pattern. A lot of them are up, but not all of them. Check the collection gallery.