The Jewelry District, Episode 62: Guest Emily Stoehrer


In This Episode
You’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky and news director Rob Bates talk with Emily Stoehrer, the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

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Show Notes
00:30 The JCK editors introduce Emily Stoehrer, the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
10:18 Emily explains how she brings the jewelry collections together.
17:11 Victoria asks if there are any gaps in the collections at the Museum of Fine Arts.
19:30 Emily discusses founder Susan Kaplan, designer Wallace Chan, and the intersection of jewelry and technology.

Episode Credits
Hosts: Rob Bates and Victoria Gomelsky
Producer and engineer: Natalie Chomet
Plugs: jckonline.com, @jckmagazine

Show Recap

Introducing Emily Stohrer
Rob and Victoria introduce their guest, Emily Stoehrer, the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She’s the country’s only dedicated jewelry curator. Emily has an undergraduate degree in psychology and originally planned to go into law but ended up going to FIT to study textiles and fashion. She then went back to Boston to work at the Museum of Fine Arts as an intern. She also began work on a Ph.D., which enabled her to study jewelry theory and material culture. She now serves as a curator in the museum to a global jewelry collection that spans 6,000 years and has 22,000 objects. As a fashion historian, she’s interested in the ways jewelry and fashion intersect.

How The Collections Are Created
Victoria asks Emily where the pieces in the collection come from, how they vet them, and how they put it all together. Emily says the majority of pieces in the museum come in as gifts, but they also purchase works of art. As far as the jewelry collection goes, those pieces are mostly from excavation in the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan. Only 1%–3% of the collection goes on view. With new technology, they can update the descriptions of the jewelry, as their stories are always evolving. Victoria asks what a few of Emily’s favorite pieces are.

Gaps in the Collection
Victoria wonders if there are any gaps in the collection, and Emily says over the past few years she’s been looking to add pieces created by women jewelers, and going forward she’s looking to add pieces by artists of color. She’s recently added a piece by Winifred Mason, a teacher of Art Smith and one of the most well-known artists in the studio jewelry movement. Her work will be shown in an upcoming jazz exhibition at the museum. Rob asks how hard it is to get people to come into the jewelry wing, and Emily says combining different displays and grouping pieces together from fashion and jewelry brings more attention to the jewelry.

Susan Kaplan, Wallace Chan, and Tech in Jewelry
Susan Kaplan endowed the jewelry gallery but recognized that someone would need to be on staff to know all about that jewelry. Rob asks if Emily thinks jewelry is underappreciated as a historical category—Emily says yes. Emily speaks of her contribution to Wallace Chan’s new book on his butterfly collection. She hopes to add a piece of his to the museum’s collection. Victoria asks if AI will make its way into the collections at some point, and Emily believes eventually it will, but she’s not especially interested in the intersection of jewelry and technology yet, as it’s just getting started.

(Photo courtesy of Emily Stoehrer)

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