Events & Awards

Driehaus Museum Displaying Rare Jewels From Chicago Collections

Events & AwardsJun 18, 2024

Driehaus Museum Displaying Rare Jewels From Chicago Collections

The museum also will host jewelry heist-themed movie nights throughout the run of “Chicago Collects: Jewelry in Perspective.”

Louis Comfort Tiffany 1900 gold and opal necklace
A gold and opal necklace, circa 1900, by Louis Comfort Tiffany is one of more than 200 jewels featured in the Driehaus Museum’s new jewelry exhibition. (Photo by Michael Tropea)
Chicago—Chicago’s Driehaus Museum will showcase jewelry, some never seen before, from prominent Chicago collections in a new exhibition that will be on display through September.

The museum, which is focused on art, architecture, and design of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, opened “Chicago Collects: Jewelry in Perspective” in May. 

It’s made up of more than 200 pieces of “rare and historically significant” jewelry ranging from the late 17th century to today.

The museum said the curation is the first of its kind, featuring jewelry and decorative arts objects from the Richard H. Driehaus Collection and objects from the Chicago History Museum, the Field Museum, and the Lizzardo Museum of Lapidary Art, as well as loans from other Chicago institutions, collections, and private lenders.

Marcus & Co. necklace
A Marcus & Co. necklace with gold, enamel, black opal, and pearl from a private collection (Photo by Alex Brescanu, courtesy of the Driehaus Museum)

The exhibition is organized by jewelry historian and author Elyse Zorn Karlin, who served as guest curator of the museum’s 2015 exhibition, “Maker and Muse: Women and 20th Century Art Jewelry.”

“Chicago Collects has a broad thesis that allows us to show a variety of jewelry from across centuries, but what all the works have in common are their origins—they all come from Chicago collectors,” Karlin said. 

“Many of the pieces have never been shown publicly before and they illustrate a number of periods and styles in jewelry history. In addition, the exhibition showcases the work of noted contemporary Chicago goldsmiths. It's been a delight to work with so many wonderful pieces, all right here in Chicago.”

1845 neo-renaissance romanticist bracelet Dieu Donne Jean-Valentin Morel
A Neo-Renaissance Romanticist Bracelet, “Dieu Donne,” created by French gold and silversmith Jean-Valentin Morel in 1845

The exhibition begins with stylistic periods of jewelry history from the last several decades, and from there, items are organized into categories of collecting interest, such as Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Vienna Secession, British Arts & Crafts, Chicago Arts & Crafts, 19th Century Revival, Belle Époque, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Art Deco, Fabergé, Important Makers, Tiaras, and Mid-Century Modern and Contemporary Jewelry.  

Highlights include loans from the Field Museum from the 1893 World’s Fair; a rare piece of silver made by Paul Revere, Jr.; a handwrought silver punch bowl belonging to the Cliff Dweller’s Club; and jewelry renderings by Art Nouveau master René Lalique.

Rene Lalique chrysanthemum brooch
A chrysanthemum pendant brooch, circa 1900, by Art Nouveau artist Rene Lalique (Photo by John A. Faier, courtesy of the Driehaus Museum)

Jewels and objects made by Chicago artists from the Arts & Crafts Movement, as well as pieces from Chicago’s Kalo Shop, a prominent maker of silver during the movement, will also be featured.

Driehaus Museum Executive Director Lisa Key said, “Chicago Collects: Jewelry in Perspective continues our commitment to presenting new research and ideas around decorative art, and honors the collecting legacy of our founder, Richard H. Driehaus. The exhibition brings audiences closer to a very personal artform—jewelry—to show how history can add new perspectives to our everyday lives. 

“Audiences will be thrilled to experience, up close, incredible works of wearable art and revel in the artistry of this universal artform. We are pleased to work again with Elyse Karlin, whose expertise in jewelry remains unparalleled.”

Chicago Collects: Jewelry in Perspective will be on view at the Driehaus Museum, located 40 E. Erie Street, until Sept. 23. 

 Related stories will be right here … 

Throughout the run of the exhibition, the museum will host “Heist Night” events featuring screenings of classic heist films and talks with film experts.

On Wednesday, July 31 at 5:30 p.m., the museum will show the 1975 film “Murph the Surf,” which documents the 1964 heist of the J.P. Morgan jewel collection from New York City’s American Museum of Natural History. 

Karlin, the exhibition’s guest curator, will introduce the film and provide background on the visuals and story.

The 1964 film “Topkapi,” which centers on the theft of an emerald-encrusted dagger from Istanbul's Topkapi Palace, will screen on Thursday, Aug. 15, at 5:30 p.m.

Bruce Jenkins, a professor at the School of the Art Institute, will give a primer on the creative team behind the film before the showing. 

“Ocean’s Eight,” the fictional story of the all-female team of thieves targeting a $150 million diamond necklace, will hit the screen on Monday, Sept. 16, at 5:30 p.m.

It will be introduced by Patricia Erens, a professor at the School of the Art Institute.

Attendees must be 18 or older to attend the screenings. Tickets are $25 and student tickets are $15, and both can be purchased on the museum’s event page.  

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