The Met's New Exhibit Puts The Spotlight On Centuries Of Jewelry

A dazzling collection of jewelry from around the globe spanning four millennia will be going on display at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art beginning Nov. 12, 2018.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the upcoming exhibit—known as "Jewelry: The Body Transformed"—will feature over 230 pieces selected from the museum's archives in what will surely be a glittering spectacle charting the history of humanity's fascination with exquisite adornments. Headdresses, ear ornaments, brooches, necklaces, and rings will be among the wide array of sparkling pieces plucked from moments in history dating from the present day all the way back to 2600 B.C.E.

The museum's website explains the event is meant to act as a "global conversation about one of the most personal and universal art forms" while exploring "how jewelry acts upon and activates the body it adorns."

"Our hope is to offer a richly layered experience, to look at jewelry up close, from on high, and through a broader view," Melanie Holcomb, lead curator for the exhibit and also curator of the museum's department of medieval art and the cloisters, told The Hollywood Reporter.


Via metmuseum.org

Among some of the spectacular pieces spanning centuries and cultures are a pair of gold sandals with toe stalls from Egypt's 18th Dynasty, circa 1470-1425 B.C. These were used to protect the wearer's toes during burial. Also included in the impressive collection is German leg armor from the 16th century, a lacquered hair comb possibly worn by a 19th-century Japanese courtesan, and a floral collar from Tutankhamun's funeral feast.

In addition to historical pieces, there will also be a number of items related to fashion and pop culture on display, including pieces from designer Yves Saint Laurent and British jewelry designer Shaun Leane crafted exclusively for Alexander McQueen. The collection will be shown along with sculptures, paintings, prints and photographs, all meant to enrich the story of transformation through jewelry.

Via metmuseum.org

The gallery allows guests to roam freely without needing to follow any sort of chronological order. Start with Elsa Schiaparelli's evening gloves from the 1930s, adorned with black sequins reminiscent of reptile scales, and then move on to admire Hellenistic golden-serpentine sea-gold bracelets.

The exhibit is a collaboration between six female museum curators who all selected pieces from their respective areas of expertise to bring together in one tremendous showing. While a majority of pieces come directly from the Met's personal collection, there was one piece brought in on loan from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: a Cartier five-strand pearl necklace dated circa-1928 with diamond accents brought in for its natural pearls.

Beth Carver Wees, the Ruth Bigelow Winston curator of American decorative arts for the museum's American wing, told The Hollywood Reporter that she initially proposed creating a jewelry exhibit and the idea grew from there.

The exhibit opens on Nov. 12, 2018, and will run through Feb. 24, 2108, at the Metropolitan Museum.

"Jewelry may seem superficial, but the act of adornment is one of the most profound arts we engage in," Holcomb said. "We've done everything in our power to make sure this exhibition captures the dazzle."


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