The State Historical Museum is now offering an exhibit of 17 historic Iowa quilts which date back some 130 years. The museum’s Jeff Morgan says the beautifully-preserved, colorful quilts are all in the style known as “crazy quilts.”

Morgan says that design has its origins in the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. “The Japanese pavilion drew almost 10-million visitors,” Morgan says. “The crazy quilt design at that time was asymmetrical and irregular-shaped patches in jewel tones of burgundy, green and gold that also became very fashionable in wallpaper, textiles, interior decoration and, of course, eventually into crazy quilts, too.”

Quilts are much more than a warm bed comforter, Morgan says, to many, they’re intricate, handmade artwork. While the craft dates back more than a century, Morgan says today’s Iowans are still making and admiring quilts.

“The crazy quilts from the late 1800s are very popular,” Morgan says. “You’re seeing many different shows throughout the state and across the country. It’s still something people are very engaged in. There are quilt groups all over the country, very prominent, very active and very busy.”

The exhibit, “Going Crazy! Iowa Crazy Quilts,” will be featured at the museum in Des Moines through March. Its opening coincides with the opening on Wednesday of the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Show & Contest at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. To learn more, visit