by Barb on July 4, 2011
On Saturday afternoon, after my weekly venture to the Union Square Greenmarket, I headed uptown to the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum for the “Set in Style” exhibit highlighting the jewellery of Van Cleef & Arpels. In the last days of any exhibit, you can only delusional to think that you would have the luxury of viewing each piece in silence. Admission into the exhibit was $10 for students and seniors, and $15 for regular admission. For those visiting today (July 4th), admission is free.
Divided into six themes – transformations, nature as inspiration, exoticism, fashion, and personalities – the exhibit features over 350 pieces, which are described in an accompanying guide. In lieu of the regular audio guide, guests are able to spend a little extra on the rental of an iPad as their guide. The encasing of the jewelry, in large round globes, adds to the lovely presentation. While many of the themes are clearly defined by a separation of rooms, the themes of exoticism and fashion are only distinguishable by the distinct personalities of the collections (although the exhibition map distinguishes the two by their separate cases, there is some overlap in any case).
For several of the pieces, they were placed under a magnifier so as to better illustrate the complexities of the design and the many elements. Perhaps most stunning of all the pieces on display is the arrangement of the butterfly brooches in the conservatory, where the light fills the room in warmth and illuminates the butterflies as though they truly are in flight.
Unfortunately, the large crowds made the exhibit quite difficult to fully enjoy. With loud chatter and noses pretty much pressed against the glass, much of my time was spent peeking between bodies and quickly looking for the reference number to read up on it. But from what I did gather, it was a nicely done exhibit.
Check out the video below for a walk-through of the gallery:
Image and video courtesy of the Cooper-Hewitt