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MUSEUM TO EXHIBIT STUNNING GEMS AND JEWELRY FROM SMITHSONIAN’S NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

John Sinkankas; Quartz Egg with Stand; Quartz egg with faceted corundum. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, January 10, 2018—The Whatcom Museum is pleased to host a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Jeweled Objects of Desire: From Ordinary to Extraordinary. This exhibition, showing February 3 – May 6, 2018 at the Lightcatcher building will dazzle visitors of all ages, as it features rarely seen items from the vaults of the National Museum of Natural History.

Each piece in this exhibition demonstrates the skill and ingenuity of various artists who transform simple materials into striking treasures. Whether it is a faceted quartz crystal egg, a gem-studded fishing reel, a gold seahorse pin, or a gold mouse trap with a diamond-encrusted cheese wedge, each of these creations irresistibly attracts attention and appeals to the imagination, encouraging visitors to think about why and how each work was made.

“As part of our affiliation with the Smithsonian, we are delighted to bring Jeweled Objects of Desire to Bellingham,” said Patricia Leach, Executive Director of the Whatcom Museum. “It is our first time collaborating with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and is a wonderful opportunity for our community to gain greater access to some of the Smithsonian’s extraordinary collections. In the exhibition, these precious stones ordinarily found in the geology of our planet are transformed into jeweled works of art.”

Presenting uncut examples of precious materials such as jade, amethyst, and quartz alongside the artistry of man-made objects, Jeweled Objects of Desire celebrates the beauty of stones found deep within the earth. Highlights of the exhibition include a 7,000 carat quartz egg from Brazil, containing 240 facets (or surfaces) and resting on a gold stand embellished with 16 small and four large sapphires; a freshwater pearl corncob with 18-karat gold husk, inspired by the importance corn played in Incan society; and a 14-karat gold sardine can studded with Russian diamonds.

This exhibition features the work of a number of artists, but also includes a selection of artwork by internationally renowned jewelry designer Sidney Mobell. Mobell is celebrated for crafting common utilitarian items into unique artworks through the use of gold and precious gemstones. Among the spectacular works on view are a 14-karat gold cell phone encrusted with more than 250 gems and a golden mail box studded with 76.70 carats of precious and semi-precious stones.

Jeweled Objects of Desire is sponsored by Smith & Vallee Gallery, the Whatcom Museum Advocates, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, and the City of Bellingham, and will be on view through May 6, 2018 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street. The member reception will take place Friday, February 2, 5 – 7 PM at the Lightcatcher building. Opening concurrently at the Lightcatcher is the exhibition Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America.