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The Mark Dunn Collection

The Mark Dunn Collection

Written by: 
Linzee McCray

Moda’s president, Mark Dunn recently visited the International Quilt Study Center and Museum and while it wasn’t his first trip there, it was likely the most special. On September 7 he stepped into the galleries to see his own quilts hanging on the museum’s walls.

His visit coincided with the opening of The Mark Dunn Collection, an exhibition on display from Sept. 7 to January 10, 2019. I talked with Mark before he headed from Dallas to Lincoln, Nebraska. He has fond feelings for the International Quilt Study Center and Museum (IQSCM), which he first visited during a board meeting of the Alliance for American Quilts. “I fell in love with the museum and what they’re doing to preserve quilts and help the industry,” he said. “It’s been about six or seven years since I’ve been and I’m looking forward to it—they’re such nice people and it’s a great town.” 

Leslie Levy, IQSCM executive director with Mark Dunn

Selecting the quilts for the exhibition was no easy task. Mark started his collection about 15 or 20 years ago, beginning with quilts from his wife’s side of the family. “We hung some in our offices and I started looking around for more,” he said. “Now I have them in my house and in my business.”

From that collection of more than 200 quilts he chose forty and shared images of them with the museum staff, who narrowed the selections further. 

While the majority of quilts in The Mark Dunn Collection exhibition are antique, some are contemporary. That mix of genres is reflected in his home—modern mixed with antiques—as well as in his quilt and art collections. Not surprisingly for a man in the quilting industry, fabrics are often what attract him to buy a quilt. “A beautiful fabric is a beautiful fabric, no matter what century you’re in,” he said. “I appreciate good prints and design and the art form of turning those prints into another design—a quilt.” 

He also loves knowing the history of his quilts. “A lot of my quilts have a story to go with them—about the times they were done, why they were made in a certain way—and it adds to their character and sometimes is one of the most interesting things about them,” he says.

In his remarks during the opening of the exhibition he made a point of encouraging quilters to keep track of a quilt’s origins. Josh Dunn, International Sales Manager for Moda Fabrics and Supplies and Mark’s son, accompanied him to the event. “One of the main parts of the show and his speech was discussing the need to document quilts, whether it was a gift from a family member or a piece of art,” said Josh. “That continues for the life of the quilt, and provides meaning for future generations.”

The event was a special evening for the Dunns (and not just because it gave Mark and Josh an excuse to dress up—they’re both known for their sartorial splendor). “My favorite part of the opening was seeing the crowd interact with Dad after his speech,” said Josh. “I think they really get to see his personality come out in the question-and-answer session, which really showed how much we care for this industry and want to see it continue to thrive in the future. It truly was an honor for his quilts to be on display at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. He loves seeing his quilts in a more public space for the world to enjoy.”

You’ve still got plenty of time to get to Lincoln to enjoy the exhibition. For more information about The Mark Dunn Collection and other ongoing exhibitions, visit the IQSCM web site.

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