Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Group Tour magazine will continue to provide group travel inspiration. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.

Quilts are more than a warm blanket or a decoration at the end of a bed. Whether through patterns or the fabrics used to execute a design, quilts contain tales in their threads. Who was the quilt created for? Why was the quilt made? What might the fabric reveal about the quilter or the time period?

The International Quilt Museum, housed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, preserves these stories. The museum boasts a collection of over 6,500 items from 55 countries and five centuries. Newly curated exhibits themed on time, space and style offer introductions to the stories sewn into the quilts. These exhibits rotate every three to six months and include pieces from the collection, borrowed items and contemporary quilt art.

“Every tour is different and tailored to the needs and interests of the group,” said Dean Young, operations manager at the International Quilt Museum. “Just like quilts combine different textiles, groups can customize their visit from a menu of offerings.”

A public tour of the galleries highlights different design styles across cultures and centuries. In the “Old World Quilts” exhibit, visitors are reminded that while the wealthy commissioned tapestries, ordinary folk created quilts. It was a method of preserving stories and celebrating momentous events like birth, marriage or a new home.

Currently, the museum has suspended private group tours until further notice due to current COVID-19 restrictions.

Credit: International Quilt Museum

Under normal business operations, groups can arrange private tours. A behind-the-scenes tour offers a curator’s perspective. Visitors learn how the museum’s collection is stored and preserved as well as how exhibits are pulled together.

“Some pieces in the collection are 500 years old and will likely not go on display because of their frailty.” Young said. An intimate guided tour allows visitors to see some of these older pieces and learn their stories.

In addition to self-guided walks through the galleries, various education programs enhance visitors’ experiences. Artists may give a talk on their technique or offer a hands-on workshop related to a particular exhibition

The museum’s Seminar Room easily accommodates group meals. Staff coordinate with local vendors in advance to arrange for food. “Many groups seek out an ice cream treat from our famed University of Nebraska Dairy.” Young said. “It’s a sweet treat for the end of a fun day.”

For more information call 402-472-6549 or go to internationalquiltmuseum.org.

Article by Michael McLaughlin.