Bejeweled and Bedazzled: Jewelry and Personal Adornment

Garnet Necklace Retailed by James Mix, Jr., Albany, NY c. 1870–80 Garnets, gold Albany Institute of History & Art, gift of Susan Yager Cook, 2008.24.1.5

JANUARY 26—JUNE 9, 2019

Malachite, gold, pearls—these are just a few of the precious materials we use to adorn ourselves. They say luxury and refinement while declaring our good taste and broadcasting to others our disposable income. They can spark moments of contemplative reflection by reminding us of family members and loved ones, and occasionally, they announce our membership in clubs and organizations or proudly declare our political affiliations. The pins and bracelets, necklaces and rings that glitter on our wrists and hands or shimmer on our clothing say a great deal about who we are and what we aspire to be. But most significantly, jewels and ornaments delight us, and others, with their rich colors and gleaming surfaces. Not all adornment, however, need to be made from the costliest materials to serve the same purpose. Fabric ribbons, rhinestones, and even human hair braided and twisted into armbands and brooches accentuate our bodies and apparel and speak eloquently about our character and desires. 

More than one hundred works of jewelry and personal adornment dating across four centuries will sparkle and shine in the exhibition Bejeweled and Bedazzled: Jewelry and Personal Adornment. Drawn from the collections of the Albany Institute and private collections, these personal effects will tell stories about the individuals who owned them, where and why they were purchased, and what they reveal as works of art and embellishment.

Throughout the exhibition, paintings, prints, and photographs as well as other rare materials drawn from the Institute’s collections will broaden our investigation into these small but precious items. Bejeweled and Bedazzled is the first exhibition to focus exclusively on the Institute’s collection of jewelry and objects of personal adornment.

Exhibition Support

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Major support provided by Mark Lawson Antiques and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

In-kind support provided by Ferris Coin and Jewelry, Inc. and Bolt Home.

Special thanks to Jan McEneny.

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Season exhibition support is provided by Phoebe Powell Bender, Mr. and Mrs. George R. Hearst III, Charles M. Liddle III, and Lois and David Swawite.

Exhibition Events & Programs

Winter Exhibitions Reception | special event | Friday, January 25, 2019 | 5—7PM | free for museum members, $10 non-members | RSVP online

Things that Bling | museum after dark (MAD) tour | Friday, February 1, 2019 | 6PM | $10 members, $12 non-members | register online

Curator Tour | member-only event | Wednesday, March 13, 2019 | 5:30PM | free for museum members | RSVPs required

Early Political Jewelry | lecture | Thomas Keefe, Collector of Political Memorabilia | Thursday, March 21, 2019 | 5:30PM | free admission

Jewelry Appraisal Day | special program | Mark Lawson Antiques | Saturday, March 30, 2019 | 10:30AM-2PM | Appraisals are $5 per piece of jewelry with a limit of three per person

How American Found its Face: Portrait Miniatures in the New Republic | lecture | Elle Shushan, Dealer in Fine Portrait Miniatures in Philadelphia and London, Author, Lecturer, and Museum Consultant | Sunday, March 31, 2019 | 2PM | included with admission

Bejeweled | vacation art break | ages 6-12 | Tuesday, April 23- Thursday, April 25, 2019 | $50 members, $65 non-members | register online

Bedazzled Bugs | family paint workshop | ages 6+ | Friday, April 26, 2019 | 1-3PM | per painter: $20 members, $25 non-members | register online

Nubian Gold: Ancient Jewelry from Sudan and Egypt | lecture | Dr. Peter Lacovara, Director, The Ancient Egyptian Heritage and Archaeology Fund | Saturday, April 27, 2019 | 2PM | included with admission

In Death Lamented: The Tradition of Anglo-American Mourning Jewelry | lecture | Sarah Nehama, Antique Jewelry Collector, Curator, and Author | Sunday, April 28, 2019 | 2PM | included with admission