Jewelry for America: The Evolution of Jewelry in the U.S. with Beth Carver Wees, Ruth Bigelow Wriston Curator of American Decorative Arts at The Met

Episode 38

Beth Carver Wees is the Ruth Bigelow Wriston Curator of American Decorative Arts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she oversees the collections of American silver, jewelry and other metalwork. She is currently the curator of the exhibit “Jewelry for America,” which runs until April 5, 2020. Spanning 300 years, “Jewelry for America” explores the evolution of jewelry in the U.S. from the early 18th century to present day.

Prior to joining The Met staff in 2000, Beth was Curator of Decorative Arts at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. She holds degrees in Art History from Smith College and the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art. An enthusiast for Britain’s historic houses, Beth is an alumna of the Attingham Summer School and the Royal Collection Studies, and sits on the board of the American Friends of Attingham as Secretary. She lectures internationally and is the author of numerous articles and books, including English, Irish & Scottish Silver at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (1997) and Early American Silver in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2013).

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • What a curator does, and the difference in working at a large museum versus a smaller one.
  • The inspiration behind the “Jewelry for America” exhibit.
  • Why the “Jewelry for America” exhibits in a chrono-thematic fashion.
  • The five sections that compose the “Jewelry for America” exhibit.
  • Why Beth decided to include a costume jewelry case in the exhibit.
  • An overview of Beth’s most favorite pieces in the exhibit.

Additional resources:

Episode Transcript

Sharon Berman