About the Exhibition

The first major museum exhibition of jewelry from the personal collection of Madeleine Albright premiered at the Museum of Arts and Design on September 30, 2009 and closed on January 31, 2010. Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection featured more than 200 pins, many of which Secretary Albright wore to communicate a message or a mood during her diplomatic tenure. The exhibition examines the collection for its historic significance as well as the expressive power of jewelry and its ability to communicate through a style and language of its own. The exhibition was displayed in the Museum's Tiffany & Co. Gallery, dedicated to the study and presentation of contemporary jewelry from around the world.

In 1997, Albright was named the first female Secretary of State and became, at that time, the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. While serving under President Bill Clinton, first as U.S ambassador to the United Nations, and then as Secretary of State, Albright became known for wearing brooches that purposefully conveyed her views about the situation at hand. "I found that jewelry had become part of my personal diplomatic arsenal," Secretary Albright has said. "While President George H.W. Bush had been known for saying 'Read my lips,' I began urging colleagues and reporters to 'Read my pins.'"

The collection that Secretary Albright cultivated is distinctive and democratic-sometimes demure and understated, sometimes outlandish and outspoken-spanning more than a century of jewelry design and including fascinating pieces from across the globe. The works on view were chosen for their symbolic value, and while some are fine antiques, many are costume jewelry. Read My Pins explores the stories behind these works and their historical and artistic significance, and is accompanied by a book, Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box, published by HarperCollins. 

Over the years, Secretary Albright's pins became a part of her public persona, and they chart the course of an extraordinary journey, carving out a visual path through international and cultural diplomacy. A highlight of the exhibition will be the brooch that began Secretary Albright's unusual use of pins as a tool in her diplomatic arsenal. After Saddam Hussein's press referred to her as a serpent, Secretary Albright wore a golden snake brooch pinned to her suit for her next meeting on Iraq. Read My Pins will feature the famous snake brooch among many other pins with similar stories-some associated with important world events, others gifts from international leaders or valued friends.

The exhibition also showcases a group of Americana, which is at the center of the Madeleine Albright collection. One of her most original pieces is a pin made for her specifically on the occasion of Brooching It Diplomatically. The silver brooch shows the head of Lady Liberty with two watch faces for eyes, one of which is upside down-allowing both her and her visitor to see when it is time for an appointment to end. As demonstrated in this clever work, Read My Pins explores Albright's ongoing impact on the field of jewelry design and collecting.

After Read My Pins closed at the Museum of Arts and Design, the exhibition has traveled to 18 venues and will not close until January of 2018.

This exhibition is generously supported by Bren Simon.

Tour Dates:

William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum, Little Rock, Arkansas, February 15, 2010–June 1, 2010

Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle), Washington, DC, June 18, 2010–October 17, 2010

Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana, November 7, 2010–January 30, 2011

The Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College, Miami, Florida, February 24, 2011–April 30, 2011

New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, May 24, 2011–August 14, 2011

Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, Atlanta, Georgia, September 3, 2011–November 27, 2011

Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, December 13, 2011–March 4, 2012

Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado, April 15, 2012–June 17, 2012

Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina, June 30, 2012–September 23, 2012

Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, California, October 20, 2012–January 13, 2013

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan, January 27, 2013–April 21, 2013

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Cedar Rapids, Indiana, May 11, 2013–October 27, 2013

Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, November 23, 2013–April 20, 2014

Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, June 9, 2014–July 20, 2014

FDR Presidential Library, Hyde Park, New York, September 29, 2014–November 2, 2014

Harry S. Truman Library & Museum, Independence, Missouri, November 30, 2014–February 22, 2015

Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, Washington, March 13, 2015–June 7, 2015

Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, Yorba Linda, California, July 11, 2015–September 27, 2015

Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, November 19, 2016–January 29, 2017

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, Simi Valley, California, April 3, 2017–June 25, 2017

LBJ Presidential Library, Austin, Texas, October 28, 2017–January 21, 2018


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