Exhibition brings an up-close look at diplomat’s jewelry – and messages
CHARLOTTE, NC (February 9, 2012) – During her career in public service, Madeleine Albright famously used her jewelry to communicate diplomatic messages. From June 30 through September 23, 2012, The Mint Museum is scheduled to present the exhibition Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection, which reveals an intriguing story of American history and foreign policy as told through Secretary Albright’s jeweled pins.
“The Mint Museum is proud to bring this groundbreaking exhibition to Charlotte audiences at the same time the city is preparing to host one of the nation’s ultimate exercises of democracy, the Democratic National Convention,” said Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President & CEO of The Mint Museum. The convention runs September 3-6, 2012.
Secretary Albright visited The Mint Museum Thursday to tour the galleries and speak to reporters about the planned exhibition. “I am delighted this exhibit will be in Charlotte,” she told those in attendance, “and it’s especially neat that it will happen during the convention.” She is also scheduled to return to Charlotte July 13-14 for a series of events around the exhibition, including a private invitation-only event on July 13 and public events on July 14.
Organized by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the exhibition features more than 200 pieces of jewelry. The collection that Secretary Albright cultivated is distinctive and democratic — sometimes demure and understated, sometimes outlandish and outspoken — and spans more than a century of jewelry design and fascinating pieces from across the globe. The works on view are chosen for their symbolic value, and while some are fine antiques, many are costume jewelry. Together the pieces in this expressive collection explore the power of jewelry to communicate through a style and language of its own.
Jewelry became part of Albright’s diplomatic arsenal in 1994 when Saddam Hussein’s government-controlled press referred to Albright, who was at that time U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, as an “unparalleled serpent.” At her next meeting on the subject of Iraq, Albright wore a golden snake brooch, beginning a career-long practice of using jewelry to convey and reinforce diplomatic messages. Albright told reporters Thursday: “My pin collection….would not exist if it had not been for Saddam Hussein.”
“While President George H.W. Bush had been known for saying ‘Read my lips,’ I began urging colleagues and reporters to ‘Read my pins’,” Albright has said. Through this traveling exhibition and the accompanying book “Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box” (2009), which is on sale now in The Mint Museum Shops. Secretary Albright has given the world an opportunity to explore American history and foreign policy through the unique lens of jewelry.
Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection was organized by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. Generous support for the original exhibition was provided by Bren Simon and for the exhibition catalogue by St. John Knits. The Mint Museum is supported by the Arts & Science Council and North Carolina Arts Council.