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May 27, 2008

"Heavenly" exhibition opens June 14 at folk art museum

“Seeing Stars” takes on new meaning in an exhibition opening June 14 at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in the Foster and Muriel McCarl Gallery. “Seeing Stars in American Bedcovers” allows museum guests to explore various star shapes and discover a fascinating variety of techniques used in bedcoverings during the 19th and 20th centuries.

“The radiating star figure is a centuries-old – even ancient – design motif found in many cultures that often assumed symbolic meanings in reference to heavenly bodies, religious beliefs and patriotic themes,” said Linda Baumgarten, Colonial Williamsburg’s curator of textiles. Ranging from a bold, oversized Star of Bethlehem that visually dominates a quilt to a subtle star motif stitched into the center of a quilt, the exhibition encourages the guest to compare different ways of designing or constructing a decorative textile using a simple geometric figure as the basis.

“The attractive, symmetrical shape of the star—whether constructed of five points or a multitude of points—was also especially well suited to the piecing process used to make quilts,” Baumgarten said. Piecing is one of a array of techniques displayed, including whole-cloth quilting, jacquard coverlet weaving and stenciling.

By the 19th century, the meaning of star had evolved to include someone celebrated or distinguished in the arts or a profession. “The star patterns in this exhibition required great skill to cut and piece precisely, and imagination in manipulating colors,” said Kim Ivey, associate curator of textiles, who, with Baumgarten, served as curators of the exhibition. “All of the artifacts are beautifully designed, and all are distinguished examples of their medium. They are ‘stars’ in their own right.”

“Seeing Stars in American Bedcovers” will be on view through June 2009. Admission is by Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket, annual museums pass or Good Neighbor card.

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made in America during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and embracing most categories of American folk art by well-known folk artists.

Contained within the same facility since February 2007, the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are comprised of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. The Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are located at the intersection of Francis and South Henry Streets and are entered through the Public Hospital of 1773. Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. For museum program information, telephone (757) 220-7724.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic tradespeople research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®” — a daily dramatic live street theater presentation — is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281