A few weeks ago I took the time to visit the Cooper Hewitt Museum on 91st and Fifth Ave. They just opened a great exhibit called, "The Jazz Age - American Style in the 1920s." Along side this exhibit they have all the jeweled boxes that were once in the collection of the Aga Khan on display. Both of these displays are well worth visiting.
The Cooper Hewitt is in a beautiful old mansion that was built and owned by Andrew Carnegie. He started construction in 1899. With its expansive gardens, the Museum is worth a visit if only to see the structure. It's a light filled Georgian style country house, with ornate wood details. However, the Art Deco themed exhibit of textiles, furniture, art work and jewelry seemed quite at home here as well.
The first thing that sets this experience apart from other museums is that when you buy your ticket you are given this pen to use around the museum. It is meant to allow the visitor to save items they liked to their own personal website marking the visit. A personal digital website URL is handed to you with your ticket. You click the end of the pen on exhibit descriptions to save the piece to your site. It was a lot of fun to run around with the pen. The other end of the pen is like a stylus that you can use on interactive displays.
Of course, I had to wear my own best Art Deco earrings for my viewing. I don't know why people don't dress up anymore to go to a museum. I like to think its a glamorous outing, that should be marked by a memorable outfit. These carved jade Art Deco platinum and diamond earrings are so dramatic and long. The carving on the jade is splendid.
The exhibit itself was really well thought out. It included gorgeous examples of Art Deco furniture, mirrors, gates, and textiles. It is a broad subject, so I am sure it was hard to keep focused. While it does say American style in the title, I would imagine that refers to Americans who collected these pieces. Most as you can imagine were French design or German.
Like a bee to honey, I really went straight to the jewelry. Many of the pieces came from the collections of Lee Siegelson and Neil Lane. Other pieces were on loan from the Cartier Collection and Tiffany Collection. Here are two stunning masterpieces that I've always wanted to see from the Cartier Museum. Gloria Swanson's pair of crystal and diamond cuffs are my ultimate. They are incredible.
They also had really rare and good examples of Art Moderne jewelry by makers like Jean Despres and Gerard Sandoz. While I really appreciate the structure and form of pieces like this, I really seem to understand blingy diamond jewels better. Go figure. I would still wear those bangles below though.
The one criticism of the exhibit is the lighting and placement of the jewelry. The jewelry in cases are a little low, so you have to hunch over to see it. Some bracelets are not flat and really should be in order to view them properly. And while the JAR exhibit started some trend about looking at jewelry in the dark, I think it doesn't always suit. The jewelry here would have benefited from some better lighting.
If you love jewelry, love Art Deco and beautiful old mansions you can't go wrong taking in this exhibit. It will be available through August 20, 2017.