• Alex Madison

Couple’s collection of Amish quilts going to Smithsonian

Tiburon residents Stephen and Faith Brown have been collecting rare Amish quilts for about 50 years. They recently decided to donate their entire collection to the Renwick Gallery, a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the first exhibit of 40 or so quilts is set to go on display in 2024. (Jocelyn Knight / For The Ark)

While living in Washington, D.C., in the 1970s, Faith and Stephen Brown decided to visit the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution, to view an exhibit on Amish quilts. It was the beginning of the couple’s 50-year treasure hunt for Amish quilts, which were made exclusively by Amish women from the 1880s to 1940s. The longtime Tiburon residents have traveled across the globe in search of the rare quilts and today own one of the largest collections in the world with nearly 140 of them. Recently, Faith and Stephen donated their entire collection to the Renwick Gallery. The initial exhibit of about 40 or so quilts will go on display in 2024. Organized by museum staff, including an Amish quilt expert, the exhibition and accompanying catalog will explore the ways in which Amish quilters across the country engaged both tradition and innovation.

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