Local nonprofit’s gift will expand collection at Avenir Museum

Avenir Curator Megan Osborne, front left, accepts a $4,500 check from Mary Biggers of The Questers, front right. In the back row are other members of The Questers chapter and Avenir Director of Operations and Engagement Doreen Beard, center.

A local chapter of The Questers has given CSU’s Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising $4,500 to expand its collection of historically important textiles.

The Questers is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to preservation, restoration and education through the research and study of antiques. Nine of Colorado’s 28 chapters are based in Fort Collins, including Chapter 518, Casa Quasita, which made the donation to the Avenir. The new gift comes on the heels of a $3,500 anonymous contribution from a member of the same chapter.

“We’re so thankful for the continuing support of the Casa Quasita chapter of The Questers,” Avenir Curator Megan Osborne said. “This gift will allow us to acquire items that are not currently represented in our collection.”

New acquisitions

Osborne said the new donation, like the previous contribution, will be used to purchase items owned by Pat Nickols, a San Diego quilter who is selling her extensive textile collection but wants to keep it in the West. Osborne said the $4,500 will allow the Avenir to buy rare toile and pillar print fabrics from the 18th and 19th centuries that were used for interior furnishings.

Mary Biggers, a seamstress who volunteers at the Avenir and taught home economics in Fort Collins schools for about 12 years, is also a member of the Casa Quasita chapter and spearheaded the effort to apply to Questers International for the $4,500 grant. It was one of only 25 International Preservation & Restoration Grants that The Questers awarded this year, and one of the largest.

Volunteer work

Her projects over the last four years as an Avenir volunteer have included sewing gigot or “leg-of-mutton” sleeves back on to a wedding dress from the 1890s, and helping to inventory the Avenir collection before it was put into storage and relocated to the newly remodeled and expanded museum at 216 E. Lake St.

“I’ve always been a textiles person,” said Biggers, adding with a laugh that she started sewing at age 5 “because my mom wanted me to stop talking so much.”

Biggers and other members of Casa Quasita toured the Avenir on June 15 during a celebration of the gift.

The museum, which is open from 11 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, is in the Department of Design and Merchandising in CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.