Undercover: Revealing Design in Quilts, Coverlets, and Bed Hangings

October 11, 2014–March 15, 2015

In the private space of the bedroom the world takes center stage. There, on the elevated platform of the bed, matters of politics, international trade, social events, and cultural affairs come alive in the elaborate designs and patterns displayed on American quilts, coverlets, and bed hangings.

Bed covers of all types are the perfect canvas for displaying ideas about the world beyond the bedroom door. They make connections to foreign lands, express patriotic fervor, and fabricate realms of fantasy and childhood whimsy.

The exhibition investigates the designs and patterns that decorate American bed covers of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. More than thirty bed covers and complementary objects such as illustrated books, paintings, ceramics, and botanical specimens reveal a variety of design sources used by American women and men to decorate their beds.