How is Jewelry Selected for a Museum Collection?

Have you ever wondered "How is Jewelry Selected for a Museum Collection?"

This question has always intrigued me. I am always looking for answers. When I noticed that my bracelet was posted as the Crafthaus Mastead Image, the question surfaced again. That is because the bracelet is in the Permanent Collection of the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, CA.

The question was also on my mind because Brigitte Martin and I organized the 2014 Professional Development Seminar at the recent SNAG Conference titled, "Collectors, Collections and You".

During this program, Ulysses Grant Dietz, Curator at the Newark Museum confirmed many of my speculations.

To be brief here are a couple of criteria a curator may apply when selecting jewelry for a museum's permanent collection.

Curators and museums are looking for jewelry that looks good on display in a museum.

Size does matter.
 Ulysses Dietz specifically mentioned that ring and cuff links (as an example) are small thus, difficult to show effectively.

In comparison, this bracelet is large enough to fill an entire pedestal case. Below is a shot of the bracelet at the Crocker Art Museum.


Another factor for selecting jewelry for a museum collection is the "conversation" in the jewelry.  The museum is thinking about how they can engage the museum viewer. How does a piece of jewelry fit the museum collection? or a theme for an exhibition.

The title of this bracelet  "California Gold Uniformity of Granulation" is a great fit for the Crocker Art Museum.

(of the Crocker Art Museum)  was  legal counsel for the Central Pacific Railroad Company, and brother of Charles Crocker, one of the "Big Four" railroad barons. We are talking about historic connections to the California gold rush, California silver mines and the first huge fortunes of California. So the connection to California and gold is a perfect fit.

Uniformity of Granulation
was just a pun on gold granulation, and spoof on the obsessive nature of gold granulation.

A little ironic since gold is the traditional material of jewelry but my bracelet is made from recycled tin cans. 

The edge and reverse side are brass escutcheon pin as dots, pseudo gold granulation dots, and Champagne bubbles.

2006 is year this bracelet was made.

Ulysses Grant Dietz gave a articulate and informative insight into the curator and museum responsibilities for accepting jewelry into the museum collection.

It still hope that we can share this recording and his presentation in the future. Stay tuned for updates.

Harriete Estel Berman

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