GREENVILLE, S.C. – America’s renowned filmmaker and documentarian Ken Burns – yes, that Ken Burns – reveals a more personal side of his storytelling talents in Uncovered: The Ken Burns Collection. On view at the Upcountry History Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, the exhibit opened in October 2021 and closes on January 30.
Featuring 26 hand-sewn historic quilts dating from 1850-1940 within Burns’ personal collection, this exhibition presents a poignant picture of America. With an intimacy of distinctive precision, design, color, shape, and applique, each quilt embodies the beauty – and mystery – of this treasured art form. From an 1890 Triple Irish Chain quilt that was a wedding gift from mother to son to an inspiring 1918 Red Cross quilt sewn to raise money during World War I to the 1933 National Recovery Administration quilt with the initials FDR, these textiles represent remarkable examples of early Americana while reflecting Burns’ love of history, America and its people, as well as his personal affection for the stories quilts convey.
Together with his anecdotal thoughts about collecting and quilts, Uncovered is a unique presentation of visual history that illustrates not only the art of quilting, but its authenticity in the common sharing of our heritage as a way to have civil discourse, an important element Burns believes quilts and films can accomplish, as both are pure examples of the collective expressions of individuals, geography and culture.
In a video documenting the Uncovered exhibition, Burns said, “I have pursued as a hobby collecting what I believe is the cleanest, simplest, most authentic expression of who we are as a people … There’s nothing more directly linked to who we are than the fabric we make.”
Uncovered: The Ken Burns Collection exhibition was organized by the International Quilt Museum, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The Upcountry History Museum is located at 540 Buncombe St., in Greenville, S.C. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm Eastern time and Sunday from 1pm to 5 pm Eastern time. For more information, call 864-467-3100 or visit www.upcountryhistory.org.