Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's Collection of Pins Exhibited for First Time at Museum of Arts and Design

"Read My Pins" Explores Jewelry as a Diplomatic, Political and Social Tool

New York, NY (April 1, 2009)

The first major museum exhibition of jewelry from the personal collection of Madeleine Albright will premiere at the Museum of Arts and Design on September 30 and will remain on view through January 31, 2010. features more than 200 pins, many of which Secretary Albright wore to communicate a message 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 will be presented 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 becameknown 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 are chosen for their symbolic value, and while some are fine antiques, many are costume jewelry. Read My Pins will explore the stories behind these works and their historical and artistic significance, and will be accompanied by a book, Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box, published by HarperCollins.

“Secretary Albright’s approach to collecting focuses on the communicative value of jewelry, which often transcends its material worth,” said Holly Hotchner, the Museum’s Nanette L. Laitman Director. “The pins in this exhibition have all been used as non‐traditional tools for political negotiation and personal expression. MAD is always looking for the back‐story of art, exploring the many layers of context in which objects develop meaning. We are delighted to organize this first‐time exhibition of her collection ten years after we presented Brooching It Diplomatically, a show of new pins created by contemporary artists.  Two of those commissions are now in her personal collection, and will be exhibited in this show beside her other pins from across the world.”

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 will also showcase 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.

 
ABOUT MADELEINE ALBRIGHT

Madeleine Albright is a Principal of The Albright Group LLC, a global strategy firm, and Chair and Principal of Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm focused on emerging markets. Dr. Albright was the 64th Secretary of State of the United States. In 1997, she 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. From 1993 to 1997, Dr. Albright served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and as a member of the President’s Cabinet.

She is the first Michael and Virginia Mortara Endowed Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. She chairs both the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and the Pew Global Attitudes Project and serves as president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation. Dr. Albright co-chairs the UNDP’s Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, serves on the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Board of Trustees for the Aspen Institute and the Board of Directors of the Center for a New American Security.

Dr. Albright earned a B.A. with Honors from Wellesley College, and Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Columbia University’s Department of Public Law and Government, as well as a Certificate from its Russian Institute.

Dr. Albright is author of three New York Times best-sellers. Her autobiography, Madam Secretary: A Memoir, was published in 2003. In 2006, Dr. Albright published The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs. Her latest book, Memo to the President: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership was published in 2008.

CATALOGUE

Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection will be accompanied by a beautifully illustrated book Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box by HarperCollins publishers. The publication, authored by Secretary  Albright, reveals the full story behind the collection, and illustrates its best examples.

PUBLIC PROGRAMS

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum will organize artists’ demonstrations in the Museum’s unique Open Studios, as well as workshops, lectures and programs for children and families. Many programs will be made available on-line as well as on-site. MAD's public programs connect visitors with working artists, and act as the bridge between exhibitions and their broader historical and social contexts, contemporary issues of sustainability and design, and new developments in technique and materials.

EXHIBITION ORGANIZATION AND CREDITS

Generous support for this exhibition was provided by Bren Simon and for the exhibition catalogue by St. John Knits.

ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF ARTS AND DESIGN

The Museum of Arts and Design explores how craftsmanship, art, and design intersect in the visual arts today. The Museum focuses on contemporary creativity and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world transform materials through processes ranging from the handmade to cutting edge technologies.

The Museum’s exhibition program explores and illuminates issues and ideas, highlights creativity and craftsmanship, and celebrates the limitless potential of materials and techniques when used by creative and innovative artists. MAD’s permanent collection is global in scope and focuses on art, craft, and design from 1950 to the present day.

At the center of the Museum’s mission is education. The Museum’s dynamic new facility features classrooms and studios for master classes, seminars, and workshops for students, families and adults. Three open artist studios engage visitors in the creative processes of artists at work and enhance the exhibition programs. Lectures, films, performances and symposia related to the Museum’s collection and topical subjects affecting the world of contemporary art, craft and design are held in a renovated 150-seat auditorium.

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