David Pottinger, a Goshen resident, is known nationally for his collection of antique quilts from Amish communities.Now, Goshen College has its own Pottinger collection of quilts and household antiques on display.
Pottinger moved to Goshen in 1989 and began his projects in a downtown historic renovation. Three books have been published about his collections of Amish quilts and antiques, and hundreds of quilts were acquired by major U.S museums across the country.
In 1983, an exhibit of Pottinger’s quilts toured museums in the U.S and Europe. The exhibit was particularly popular in Zurich, Switzerland, the historic home of the Amish.
Donors presented the Mennonite Historical Library with 242 objects from Pottinger’s collection. This presentation fulfilled Pottinger’s desire to keep part of the collection local.
The collection includes doll quilts as well as full-sized quilts and comforters, knitted women’s stockings, sewing caddies, clothing and rugs. There is also a chest of drawers from 1871 as well as a unique one-drawer stand dated 1880.
An exhibit featuring pieces from this collection will appear in 2018 in the Hershberger Art Gallery.
For students interested in seeing Anabaptist art sooner, a new exhibit will be opening in the library on Sunday, March 26. The exhibit is called “A Cabinet of Curiosities.” It will run through July 28.
“The title of the exhibit is the English name for the earliest museums,” Ervin Beck, a retired GC employee, said in a news release. “In the 16th century [museums] were designated rooms, or ‘cabinets,’ in wealthy households that contained a collection of artifacts.”
This title gives the Mennonite-Amish Museum Committee, the exhibit’s sponsor, an opportunity to present a variety of recent and earlier acquisitions that have not yet been in themed exhibits.
“Among the most ‘curious’ items are a Belgian pistol found in Armenia, painted wood dancing shoes from India, a toy bobby horse and a wood mold for adobe bricks from a Mennonite immigrant house in Kansas,” said Beck.
The exhibit will mainly feature four antique Amish and Mennonite quilts, recently acquired, along with the 150th anniversary quilt by Shirley Shenk for Forks Mennonite Church in Middlebury.
“Among other folk arts are a glass painting of Pikes Peak, fraktur and revival fraktur, a faceless Amish doll and monogrammed linens,” said Beck.
There will also be a few commercial arts pieces including a Goshen Brewing Company t-shirt, a Blue Gate Theater poster and ceramics from Langnau, Switzerland.
“From churches come theology teaching charts, a flannelgraph, hand puppets and seasonal murals by Arthur Sprunger from the Eighth Street Church,” said Beck.
The items that will be on display come from the over 3,000 museum artifacts owned by the Mennonite Historical Library at GC. The curator for this exhibit is Faye Peterson, a Goshen resident. She also mounted the first Cabinet of Curiosities exhibit in 2009.
As for why students should check out the exhibit, Beck has a lot of reasons.
“It is visually great, very colorful,” he said. “Variety. There’s something for everyone. Mostly, though, it’s a way to get acquainted with Amish and Mennonite culture – elite, popular and folk – our contribution to the colorful ethnic diversity of the United States.”