Exhibition Details

Location: Lila and Joel Harnett Gallery
Dates: November 23, 2013
to April 20, 2014


When former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright vocally opposed Sadaam Hussein’s unwillingness to comply with UN inspections, government-owned Iraqi newspapers called her an “unparalleled serpent.” When Secretary Albright was next scheduled to meet with Iraqi officials, she reached into her jewelry box and selected a gold pin featuring a serpent coiled around a branch, and the legend began. Throughout her career as UN Ambassador and Secretary of State under the Clinton Administration, Secretary Albright used the colorful, attention-grabbing pins she had amassed to quietly communicate volumes.

Now, that incredible collection of pins, including antiques and fine jewelry pieces alongside costume jewelry by unknown designers, will make its way to Phoenix Art Museum. The exhibition, which first premiered at New York City’s Museum of Arts and Design, features more than 200 pins, each selected by Secretary Albright to communicate a message or a mood during and after her diplomatic tenure. From fish to flags, jewel-encrusted hearts to pins honoring suffragettes, this collection reflects the unique style and brilliant personality of a woman who learned to leverage every avenue of communication in the fine art of diplomacy. 

Image Credits

Left: Dragon and Sword, c. 2004. Designer Unknown. Acquired in Turkey. 14kt yellow and white gold, silver, garnet, baroque freshwater cultured pearls, diamonds and emeralds. Collection of Madeleine Albright. Photo by John Bigelow Taylor. Right: Secretary Albright. Pin: Cécile et Jeanne, Peace Dove, c. 1997. French. Yellow-gold plated base metal. Collection of Madeleine Albright. Photo by Timothy Greenfield Sanders.

Exhibition Sponsors

The exhibition is organized by the New York Museum of Arts and Design. Original support for the exhibition was provided by Bren Simon and by St. John Knits for the exhibition book. 

Major Support Provided By:

Roberta Aidem

Patricia AtLee

Uta Monique Behrens

Helen L. Bobince

Joan and Roger Strand

Additional Support Provided By:

Mildred N. Starr

Women’s Metropolitan Arts Council

Promotional Support Provided By:

The Phoenician