One might imagine that a jewelry exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art would consist of imagery of tools, materials and an in-depth look at the process of jewelry making. Jewelry: The Body Transformed, does none of that. Instead, the exhibit is focused on how jewelry cuts across time and space and how it truly makes us feel.
Necklace with diamonds and pearls, Dreicer & Co 1868
The fact is that jewelry has power and it has transformed its subjects for centuries. Today, at a press preview of the exhibit’s opening, Melanie Holcomb, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters explained, “It does something for us and two us.” Jewelry is transformative and tells the story of divine aspirations.
The exhibit is broken into five segments: The Divine Body examines one of the earliest conceptions of jewelry—its link to immortality, The Regal Body focuses on the use of jewelry throughout history to assert rank and status, The Transcendent Body explores how jewelry is used to traverse the temporal and spiritual realms, The Alluring Body looks at how jewelry engenders desire, and The Resplendent Body calls out the connection of material and technique for the purpose of ostentation.
“Jewelry is one of the oldest modes of creative expression—predating even cave painting by tens of thousands of years—and the urge to adorn ourselves is now nearly universal,” commented Max Hollein, Director of The Met. “This exhibition will examine the practice of creating and wearing jewelry through The Met’s global collection, revealing the many layers of significance imbued in this deeply meaningful form of art.”
Visitors will find some 230 objects drawn almost exclusively from The Met collection. A dazzling array of headdresses and ear ornaments, brooches and belts, necklaces and rings created between 2600 B.C.E. The exhibit opens to the public on November 12 and will run through February 24.