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Mementos: Jewelry of Life and Love from Historic New England

Available 2017


Exhibition Prospectus

Through heirloom jewels and stories that connect with daily life, Mementos: Jewelry of Life and Love from Historic New England will explore how we mark our important moments.

This exhibition presents jewelry, a topic typically associated with luxury and glamour, from a fresh perspective:  authentic items New England’s residents wore and loved.

Discover jewelry’s unique role as a public display of personal history in five sections: Celebrate, Remember, Tour, Collect, and Create.

Wedding sets from the 1770s, charm bracelets from favorite vacation spots, gold graduation watches, miniature portraits, cocktail rings, and a favorite set of plastic pop beads are among Historic New England’s jewelry collection. Each tells a fascinating story about life and love.

Theodora Lawton walked down the aisle in faux pearls rather than the real thing in 1951. Vipont Merwin loved to collect charms from her travels abroad and display them on jangling bracelets. Mary Wigglesworth's sister Anna made a bracelet from her own hair to celebrate Mary's upcoming wedding in 1864. Gorgeous jewelry, featured alongside images and first-person narratives of the artisans who made it, documents what was once one of New England’s most important industries. Visitors will see not only the jewels, but often an accompanying dress or shoes, as well as images of the original owners.

Pictured: Set of plastic pop beads c. 1960;  painted ivory wedding set by Stephen Twycross, London, 1796; Miniature painting, watercolor on ivory, c. 1830.

Mementos: Jewelry of Life and Love from Historic New England