September 15, 2011
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Traditionally jewellery has been considered to be ‘craft’ rather than art. Although this common perception of jewellery not being ‘en-par’ with paintings, sculptures and photography, is gradually changing, with an increasing number of art museums in America dedicating this decorative niche of modern art to its own exhibitions and shows.
Many of the major art institutions across the US, such as Richmond’s Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas Museum of Art and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, have, in recent years, been involved in exhibiting jewellery as a serious form of art, which have proved extremely popular by the number of visitors these exhibitions attract.
Remarking about the changing attitudes surrounding jewellery being exhibited as a form of art in museums, Yvonne Markowitz, who, five years ago, became one of America’s only full-time jewellery curators, curating exhibitions devoted to jewellery only at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, said:
“It’s as if jewellery had become the bastard child of decorative arts. But that attitude has changed.”
In response to the growing trend and popularity of jewellery exhibits as an expression of art, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) is opening its first gallery devoted entirely to jewellery, making it the first solely jewellery ordained gallery at a major art museum in the US.
The gallery, which contains more than 11,000 pieces of jewellery, is celebrating its opening with an exhibition titled, “Jewels, Gems and Treasures: Ancient to Modern”. The inaugural exposition includes more than 75 items that range from 2400 B.C to 2003.
Marjorie Schwarzer, author of “Riches, Rivals and Radicals: 100 Years of Museums in America” talked about the new gallery at the MFA in Boston marking a turning point in the perception of jewellery as art.
“This seems to be as significant as when art museums began having departments and curators for textiles. It’s taking these art forms that were considered ‘craft’ and then were considered ‘women’s arts’ and elevating them to fine art.”
The “Jewells, Gems and Treasures: Ancient to Modern” exhibition will run until November 25, 2012. Visit mfa.org for further details.