Inhabiting Folk Portraits
Apr
14
to Mar 25

Inhabiting Folk Portraits

This exhibition showcases portraits from Fruitlands Museum’s remarkable collection of nineteenth-century middle-class portraiture, alongside paintings and writings by Candice Smith Corby. Corby is an accomplished artist and educator who paints with traditional materials and draws inspiration from literature, familial and personal stories, dreams, memories, and “the pleasure of observing treasured objects.”

In addition to at least one painting in response to each portrait in the exhibition, Corby will also contribute words that may take the form of letters and diary entries. Just outside of the main gallery, a dramatic, floor-to-ceiling red velvet curtain will lead to an interactive area where visitors of all ages, sizes, and genders may try on clothing or accessories like those seen in the portraits. The hats, shawls, lace collars, and other accessories provide the opportunity for visitors to try on and, as the title says, inhabit each portrait.

The portraits present subjects from childhood through old age, and a full range of visitors will have the opportunity to don a hat, cape, or lacy garment, look in a mirror or through a frame, and imagine themselves as one of the sitters on view.

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Leisure Pursuits - The Fashion and Culture of Recreation
May
12
to Mar 24

Leisure Pursuits - The Fashion and Culture of Recreation

Since 1891, The Trustees has cared for properties of “exceptional scenic, historical, and ecological” value in Massachusetts. Today, Trustees protects 27,000 acres spread across 116 reservations, including 15 historic houses, 350 miles of trails, and 70 miles of protected coastline.

Within this backdrop, the stage is set: The turn of the twentieth century saw a rapid evolution in how people engaged in recreational pursuits and interacted with the outdoors.

Easier access to open spaces, more affordable sporting fashion, and an American culture that embraced fitness and sports brought leisure pursuits to the masses. From exquisite Parisian couture to fishing waders to breezy linen dresses, the way people dressed and the accessories they surrounded themselves with enabled and enhanced their ability to relax. Using collections from five Trustees historic houses as a guide, the leisure pursuits of gardening, exercising, equestrian sports, water activities, and entertaining are considered through fashion, large-scale vintage photographs, and other objects.

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Head to Toe: Hat and Shoe Fashions from Historic New England
Jun
1
to Feb 24

Head to Toe: Hat and Shoe Fashions from Historic New England

Featuring highlights from the collection of Historic New England, this exhibition showcases hats and shoes worn in New England from the 1750s to the 1980s. Often the most luxurious and decorative aspects of dress, hats and shoes reveal fascinating stories about social status and personal style. These rare and stylish survivals survey New England’s notions of glamorous dressing for men, women, and children.

Head to Toe also investigates the production of these goods and their effect on New England’s economy, workforce, and environment. What effect does the fashionable image have on our self- perception? Who could afford these objects? Who made these goods? Who makes them today? A second group of objects provides necessary contrast to the fashionable pieces: Work boots, hard hats, concealed shoes found in attics, and a pair of shoes worn by Julia Child illustrate how everyday dressing, for work or comfort, often trumps fashionable heels and ephemeral materials.

This exhibition is supported in part by our lead sponsors, Susan P. Sloan and Arthur D. Clarke, with additional support from Coby Foundation Ltd. and Dr. Janina A. Longtine.

Learn more.

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Casanova's Europe: Art, Pleasure, and Power in the 18th Century
Jul
8
to Oct 8

Casanova's Europe: Art, Pleasure, and Power in the 18th Century

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (map)
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Giacomo Casanova (1725–98) was esteemed by his contemporaries as a charming conversationalist, expert on many topics, and an international man of letters. He traveled widely throughout the continent, with extended sojourns in his native Venice, Paris, London, and much of Eastern Europe, mingling with royalty, popes, and luminaries such as Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin along the way.

This exhibition combines more than 250 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, decorative arts objects, period costumes, and musical instruments drawn from European and American museums and private collections to illustrate the splendor of eighteenth-century Europe. Structured by the chronology and geography of Casanova’s life, the exhibition addresses such themes as travel, courtship and seduction, theatre and identity, and the pleasures of dining. The visual riches Casanova would have encountered are evoked by masterpieces by Canaletto (1697–1768), François Boucher (1703–70), Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806), Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741–1828), William Hogarth (1697–1764), and others. Three tableaux—set in Venice, Paris, and London—employ period furniture and mannequins in eighteenth-century costumes to vividly convey scenarios from Casanova’s world.

Casanova is co-organized by the MFA, the Kimbell Art Museum, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue produced by MFA Publications.

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Empresses of China's Forbidden City
Aug
18
to Feb 10

Empresses of China's Forbidden City

This exhibition is the first to explore the role of empresses in shaping China’s last dynastythe Qing dynastyfrom 1644 to 1912. Nearly 200 spectacular objects from the Palace Museum tell the little-known stories of how imperial women influenced court politics, art and religion.

Timed to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of U.S.-China diplomatic relations, Empresses of China's Forbidden City is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum; the Smithsonian's Freer|Sackler, Washington, D.C.; and the Palace Museum, Beijing. 

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Fashioning the New England Family
Oct
5
to Mar 29

Fashioning the New England Family

  • Massachusetts Historical Society (map)
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Fashioning the New England Family explores the ways in which the multiple meanings of fashion and fashionable goods are reflected in patterns of consumption and refashioning, recycling, and retaining favorite family pieces. Many of the items that will be featured have been out of sight, having never been exhibited for the public or seen in living memory.

The exhibition will give scholars, students, and professionals in fields such as fashion, material culture, and history the chance to see these items for the first time; encourage research; and, provide the possibility for new discoveries. For the public, it is an opportunity to view in detail painstaking craftsmanship, discover how examples of material culture relate to significant moments in our history, and learn how garments were used as political statements, projecting an individual’s religion, loyalties, and social status. It may allow some to recognize and appreciate family keepsakes but it will certainly help us all to better understand the messages we may have previously missed in American art and literature.

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Uneasy Beauty: Discomfort in Contemporary Adornment
Oct
6
to Apr 21

Uneasy Beauty: Discomfort in Contemporary Adornment

This exhibition brings together 75 examples of contemporary jewelry and costume that demonstrate the immense power of adornment to impact us physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Showcasing wearable work in various media from regional and national artists, the exhibition will explore the outer limits of comfort through works that constrict body movement, irritate the skin, make extreme demands, or touch upon sensitive cultural nerves.

This exhibition is curated by Suzanne Ramljak, an art historian, writer, curator, and former editor of Metalsmith magazine.

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Boston Made: Arts and Crafts Jewelry and Metalwork
Nov
17
to Mar 29

Boston Made: Arts and Crafts Jewelry and Metalwork

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (map)
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Boston boasted one of the most active and influential artistic jewelry-making and metalworking communities in the nation in the early twentieth century. This is the first exhibition dedicated solely to the exemplary works of these craftspeople—an interwoven group of both men and women, New England natives and immigrants, professionals and amateurs, and solo practitioners and small workshops—who all shared a belief in the ideals of the international Arts and Crafts movement.

Both an artistic and a cultural movement, it developed in England in the late nineteenth century as a reaction to the dehumanizing effects of the Industrial Revolution, promoting individual artistry and craftsmanship as crucial elements for leading a joyful and fulfilling life. These progressive ideas found a ready audience in intellectual and artisanal circles in Boston at the turn of the century.

Through nearly 100 works—including jewelry, tableware, decorative accessories, design drawings, and archival materials—the exhibition explores the philosophy and artistry of the Arts and Crafts movement in Boston, as well as the stories of the objects’ makers and owners. In addition to emphasizing the opportunities offered to female artists such as Josephine Hartwell Shaw and Elizabeth Copeland at the time, the exhibition also highlights the contributions of jewelry maker Frank Gardner Hale and silversmith Arthur Stone, both luminaries in their respective fields. An accompanying illustrated catalogue will be released by MFA Publications in November 2018.

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Fresh Goods: Shopping for Clothes in a New England Town, 1750 - 1900
Mar
2
to Aug 31

Fresh Goods: Shopping for Clothes in a New England Town, 1750 - 1900

How do you shop for clothes? Do you go to a department store, buy online or through catalogues, shop locally at specialty shops, or sew your own? How did Concordians in the 18th and 19th centuries acquire their clothes? Who were the style-setters?

Fresh Goods examines these questions about the sources and context of small-town New England fashion and documents answers by drawing on the Concord Museum's extensive historic clothing, textile, and decorative arts collection, as well as probate inventories, account books, advertisements, photographs, and letters and diaries of the period.

Material culture historians Jane and Richard Nylander are the Consulting Curators for the exhibition. The exhibition is supported in part by The Coby Foundation, Ltd.; Middlesex Savings Bank; NorthBridge Insurance Agency, Inc., Proud to Partner with N.P. James Insurance; The Felicia Fund; and generous individuals.

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Georgia O'Keeffe: Art, Image, Style
Dec
16
to Apr 1

Georgia O'Keeffe: Art, Image, Style

Georgia O'Keeffe: Art, Image, Style is the first exhibition to explore the art, image, and personal style of one of America’s most iconic artists. O’Keeffe’s understated and carefully designed garments, many never before exhibited, are presented alongside photographs and her paintings, illuminating O’Keeffe’s unified modernist aesthetic and distinctive self-styling.

For more than 70 years, O’Keeffe shaped her public persona, defied labels, and carved out a truly progressive, independent life in order to create her art. Her aesthetic legacy — compact masses, organic silhouettes, minimal ornamentation, and restrained color palettes — continues to capture the popular imagination and inspire leading designers and tastemakers of our day.

Georgia O'Keeffe: Art, Image, Style is organized by the Brooklyn Museum with guest curator Wanda M. Corn, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor Emerita in Art History, Stanford University, and made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts. Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch, The Lynch Foundation, and Fay, Susan, and Appy Chandler provided generous support. The East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum also provided support.

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