Quilt Collection Remains in Lancaster!
The Heritage Center of Lancaster County and LancasterHistory.org are pleased to announce the execution of a formal agreement between them for the transfer of the Heritage Center’s museum collections to LancasterHistory.org.
The agreement, which was adopted in June 2012 by the governing boards of the Heritage Center of Lancaster County and LancasterHistory.org, details a plan for transfer of these assets on or before December 15, 2012, pending the necessary approvals for both the State Attorney General’s Office and the Lancaster County Orphan’s Court.
The plan will assure that this world-class collection of Lancaster County decorative arts, collected over four decades, as well as the Esprit Collection of Lancaster County Amish quilts, purchased for its regional significance, local enjoyment and education, will be cared for and maintained in Lancaster County in perpetuity.
In November 2011 the Board of Trustees of the Heritage Center announced that the organization would be entering a transitional period beginning December 31, 2011, when it would cease daily museum operations while investigating pathways for the future care of the historic collections. Today’s announcement is the culmination of meetings and conversations with Heritage Center members, donors, community leaders and the broader Lancaster non-profit community.
Sharron Nelson, Chair of the Heritage Center of Lancaster County’s Board of Trustees, stated, “Our board is very pleased with this outcome. We greatly respect the leadership shown by LancasterHistory.org, and are convinced that they are the right institution to steward Lancaster’s historic collections into the future.” She added, “Their organization – as The Lancaster County Historical Society – was one of the founders of our institution in 1974, and our missions have always remained complementary. Directing our community’s support of its heritage resources to LancasterHistory.org is both appropriate and prudent during these financially challenging times.”
Tom Ryan, President and Chief Executive Officer of LancasterHistory.org, stated, “This is an extraordinary moment, a historic moment, for Lancastrians and for visitors to our community, made possible through the courageous leadership of the Heritage Center board of trustees.” Ryan continued, “The combination of the Heritage Center’s unparalleled Lancaster decorative arts collection with LancasterHistory.org’s artifact collection of 15,000 items (featuring more than 200 paintings and historic prints, 50,000 historic photographs, textiles, furniture, etc.), an archive of more than 1.5 million manuscript items, a 15,000 volume historical research library, and the home of America’s 15th president, will make for a uniquely rich place for historical learning and civic education.”
Since the closing of the Heritage Center Museum in January 2012, the museum’s collections have been moved to secure storage, with several notable objects placed on loan with regional museums. Eighteen of the quilts from the former Esprit Collection remain on exhibition at the Lancaster Quilt & Textile Museum through December 31, 2012. The quilt museum will be open to the public on the First Friday of each month from 5-9 pm through December. Future exhibition planning will take place following the formal transfer of the collections in December, and the return of LancasterHistory.org to its newly constructed facilities at the Campus of History, located at the corner of North President and Marietta Avenues adjacent to President James Buchanan’s Wheatland.
The Heritage Center of Lancaster County was formed in the early 1970s to collect, preserve and exhibit important examples of Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s unique artistic heritage as primarily expressed in the decorative arts. Its collections focus largely on the late 18th and early 19th centuries, with many later representations, most notably the decorative arts of the Amish. As collecting efforts unfolded in its early decades, the Heritage Center acquired outstanding examples of locally-made furniture, silver, pewter, fraktur, tall case clocks, and 19th-century textiles of many kinds. Recent acquisitions include the important Esprit Collection of 82 Lancaster County Amish masterpiece quilts.
The Heritage Center has made it a priority to collect objects with strong provenance and rich ownership histories linked to Lancaster places and people. The result of these efforts has been the creation of a unique collection that ranges from objects having local or regional significance to a select group of nationally-important artifacts.
LancasterHistory.org traces its origins to 1886 with the founding of the Lancaster County Historical Society. In 2009, the historical society joined forces with President James Buchanan’s Wheatland. In 2010, the newly named LancasterHistory.org took on the stewardship of the Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith historic properties with plans to develop the site beginning in 2020. In 2011, LancasterHistory.org took up temporary residence at 4 West King Street and in early 2013, LancasterHistory.org will complete development of the Lancaster Campus of History on the ten-acre site at North President and Marietta Avenues. The Campus of History will offer a renovated historical society building with a 20,000 square-foot “green” addition for historical exhibits, lectures, and educational opportunties for learners of all ages, an accessible community park, major improvements to the Wheatland grounds and enhancements to the Tanger Arboretum.