June 29, 2022

Florence Griswold Museum Hosts Exhibition of Historic Quilts, Bedcovers Through May 1, Masterpieces from Local Area

Attributed to Jerusha Foote Johnson (1755‒1831), Colchester, Bed rug, 1782. Wool, Collection of Rick and Susan Copeland.

OLD LYME — A new exhibition titled,  New London County Quilts and Bed Covers, 1750–1825, is on view at the Florence Griswold Museum (FGM) in Old Lyme through May 1, 2022. The exhibition examines some of America’s most celebrated items of textile folk art, all produced here in the southeastern corner of Connecticut.

Curated by Lynne Z. Bassett, this exhibition of rare beauty and historic value is an important addition to women’s and Connecticut history and contributes significant scholarship in the field of American textile history.

Unidentified maker, Quilted petticoat fragment, ca. 1750‒1760. Silk, wool, DAR Museum, Gift of Mrs. Robert Weber.

The project began in August 2019 when Bassett, a leading historical textile expert, visited the Museum on a research trip to examine a whitework quilt in the FGM collection. She had become intrigued by the extraordinary tradition of New London County bed furnishings and garments that grew out of this part of Connecticut, which she described as a “hotbed” of uniquely excellent textiles.
In studying these objects and trying to identify their makers, she pondered the larger question: Why was such incredible work done here?

Unidentified maker, “PG”, Quilted petticoat made into a bed quilt; petticoat ca. 1750‒1760; bed quilt ca. 1810‒1840. Wool, broadcloth/muslin, International Quilt Museum, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2005.016.0001.

What started with the FGM quilt turned into discovering examples of works from an extraordinary roster of institutions: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, American Folk Art Museum, Historic Deerfield, the International Quilt Museum, the Henry Ford Museum, Winterthur Museum, and the DAR Museum.
Visit the exhibition to explore the heritage of these textiles, the ingenuity of their design inspiration and techniques, and learn how New London County fostered such exceptional handiwork.

Unidentified maker, Quilted petticoat fragment, ca. 1750‒1760. Silk, wool, DAR Museum, Gift of Mrs. Robert Weber.

This exhibition has been made possible by generous support from the Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts, The Connecticut Cultural Fund, The Coby Foundation, Connecticut Humanities, Mr. & Mrs. J. Geddes Parsons, Bouvier Insurance, Barbara and Wayne Harms, Mr. & Mrs. Richard H. Booth, Mr. & Mrs. Jeb Embree, Dr. Margaret O’Shea & Mr. Daniel O’Shea, as well as donors to the Museum’s Annual Fund.
The Media sponsor is WSHU Public Radio.