‘Now Showing…’ Ongoing and Upcoming Jewelry Exhibits

A number of jewelry-related exhibits are currently running or soon to open at museums throughout the United States, Canada, and England. Here’s an update on some of the latest.

Jewelry: The Colonial Williamsburg Collection

The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, Williamsburg, Va.

Dec. 21, 2002 – Dec. 31, 2003

Last chance to see this exhibit showcasing 20 selected pieces from the Colonial Williamsburg collections. Featuring both English and American jewelry, the majority of the pieces on view have never before been exhibited to the public. Included in the exhibit is a ring made by a local goldsmith for his daughter Mary and excavated from the Colonial Williamsburg 18th-century historic area, as well as beautiful pieces featuring both precious and paste stones. Mourning jewelry also appears, including a ring believed to contain the hair of George Washington.

Accompanying the jewelry are images of colonial oil portraits from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, which help to set the pieces within their historical context and illustrate how jewelry was worn in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Info: (757) 220-7724; www.colonialwilliamsburg.com.

Colors in Nature: The Glass Jewelry of Hazel Blake French

The Sandwich Glass Museum, Sandwich, Mass.

May 3 – Dec. 31, 2003

Hazel Blake French (1890-1972), a Sandwich, Mass.-based jewelry artist, was trained in Boston during the latter part of the Arts and Crafts movement. Attuned to her immediate environment, Blake plucked glass fragments from the factory ruins of the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company, shaped them into stones, and used them to create jewelry that became popular throughout the United States, England, and France. Her designs, according to curator Nezka Pfeifer, were predominately “Cape-based”—drawing inspiration from the shores of Cape Cod and featuring such organic themes as seaweed, starfish, and seagulls.

The exhibit includes a wide variety of her work, including jewelry and watercolor drawings, as well as information on her training, career, and life in Sandwich. Interactive design components and an illustrated catalog also accompany the exhibit, which is supported by Cynthia & Michael Myers in memory of Carol Jillson, the IBM International Foundation, and the Sandwich Visitors Services Board.

Info: (508) 888-0251; www.sandwichglassmuseum.org.

Art Deco 1910-1939

Royal Ontario Museum, Canada

Sept. 20, 2003 – Jan. 2, 2004

This exhibition was organized by and originally debuted at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, where it drew both accolades and huge crowds. Now, presented by the Art Shoppe, it ventures to Canada. Featuring more than 250 Art Deco masterworks, the exhibit offers an in-depth exploration of the style, its time, and the influences that brought it into being. Exhibit pieces run the gamut from jewelry to furniture to a 1934 McLaughlin Buick Sport Coupe, on loan solely to the ROM from the Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa.

The exhibition will move to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (March 13 – July 18, 2004) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Aug. 22, 2004 – Jan. 9, 2005). The book Art Deco 1910-1939 accompanies the exhibition.

Info: (416) 586-5797; www.rom.on.ca.

The Jewelry of Robert Ebendorf: A Retrospective of Forty Years

The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

Sept. 26, 2003 – Jan. 19, 2004

A retrospective of the work of American metal artist Robert Ebendorf. Using nontraditional materials and found objects including sea glass, keys, bottle caps, and even crab claws (!), Ebendorf has for 40 years created highly individual jewelry. A collection comprising 95 pieces of his jewelry will be showcased in the exhibit, which is organized by the Gallery of Art & Design, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C., and funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, North Carolina Arts Council, and the Friends of the Gallery Publication Fund. An exhibition catalog is available.

Info: (202) 357-2700; www.AmericanArt.si.edu.

Also at the Renwick Gallery: Jewels & Gems

Sept. 26, 2003 – Feb. 8, 2004

Featuring 131 one-of-a-kind pieces from the 1960s to today, this exhibit celebrates the work of American contemporary studio jewelry artists, who have for years sought to use traditional jewelry materials in nontraditional ways. A variety of mediums are seen in the pieces on display, including precious metals, enamel, and wood, and the resulting jewelry is thought provoking and highly original. Organized by the Renwick Gallery with support from Shelby M. and Frederick M. Gans and the James Renwick Alliance.

Info: (202) 357-2700; www.AmericanArt.si.edu.

Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547

The Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Oct. 9, 2003 – Jan. 18, 2004

Focusing on what was, according to curator Richard Marks, “one of the richest periods for the arts in England,” this exhibit brings together a collection of more than 300 artifacts from the age made famous by Shakespeare’s Henry V and Richard III. Many of the artifacts and works of art of the Gothic period were lost or destroyed as a result of war, fires, and the Reformation; consequently, surviving items such as these are extremely rare. Jewelry, paintings, tapestries, stained glass, ornate precious metal reliquaries, and other religious artifacts are among the items included in the exhibit.

“Gothic” also brings together, after 600 years, two 15th-century manuscripts that were originally owned by the Duke of Bedford. Bedford, brother of Henry V, and one of the “happy few” mentioned by name in the famous “St. Crispin’s Day” speech in Shakespeare’s Henry V, was the owner of one of the largest private libraries in Europe. Only 12 of his manuscripts survive, including the two mentioned above.

The exhibition is supported by the Patrons of the V&A, and the book Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547 has been published to accompany the show.

Info: (44-207) 942-2000; www.vam.ac.uk.

The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt

New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, La.

Oct. 19, 2003 – Feb. 25, 2004

There are few concepts more complex and involved than the ancient Egyptian belief in the afterlife, and that concept is explored in a blockbuster exhibit soon to open at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and United Exhibits Group, Copenhagen, in association with the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Cairo, the exhibit showcases the largest group of antiquities ever loaned by Egypt for North American exhibition. A collection of 115 objects will be on view, including jewelry, tomb sculptures, and other antiquities, as well as a reconstruction of the tomb of Thutmose III, ruler of Egypt in the 15th century B.C.

Following its stop in New Orleans, the exhibit will travel on to the Milwaukee Public Museum (March 28 – Aug. 8, 2004), the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Sept. 12, 2004 – Jan. 23, 2005), the Frist Center, Nashville (June 11, 2006 – Oct. 9, 2006), the Portland (Ore.) Museum of Art (Nov. 5, 2006 – March 4, 2007), and finally end up at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Sept. 2, 2007 – Dec. 31, 2007).

Info: (504) 488-2631; www.noma.org.