Society Magazine

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT’S PINS, Czech Museum, Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Guest Post by Barbara Siebenschuh

By Carolinearnoldtravel @CarolineSArnold

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT’S PINS, Czech Museum, Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Guest post by Barbara SiebenschuhMy friend and fellow art student (at Grinnell College and University of Iowa) Barbara Siebenschuh recently went with friends from Iowa City to see the exhibit of Madeleine Albright’s brooches at the Czech Museum in Cedar Rapids.  Until now, I had not appreciated that Madeleine Albright originally came from the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia) nor had I realized that her pins became her hallmark as a diplomat.  I think you will enjoy reading Barbara’s report. Note: The Ladies of Leisure is a group of retired women in Iowa City who get out periodically to visit museums and other places of interest in the area.
Yesterday all five Ladiez of Leisure set off for Cedar Rapids to go and see the Madeleine Albright "Read my Pins" exhibit at the Czech Museum in Cedar Rapids. We went by way of Ely, Iowa, and on the way were delighted to be able to drive by many tractors (antique and otherwise) on one of their yearly "migrations". In our case, they were all going the opposite way from us. Great fun and one can hardly plan for these surprises.
Once in the Cedar Rapids area, we set about looking for a place to eat. We ended up at "Gringos" where we all had plenty of food in a nice friendly setting. When we parked on First Ave. S.E. down from "Gringos" we had to navigate a new system of paying for parking. There are Pay Stations at intervals and one enters the parking 4 digit number near the car. It did not entirely go smoothly. It accepted my coins but then when I requested a receipt, none came out. I am not sure how it works but the "Gringos" help seemed to find it problematic as well.
The Czech Museum was accessible by an elevator from parking lower down than the museum. This museum will not flood in the future. [The Cedar River had a devastating flood in 2008, damaging much of the downtown.]
We all looked at every pin of Madeleine Albright. They were amazing. One pin was inspired by Alphonse Mucha, whose posters, paintings, photos, etc. we had seen previously in a huge Czech Museum exhibit. There were precious materials and there were political buttons and more like costume jewelry. Madeleine had many that were insects, butterflies, dragonflies; she had sea life, birds and animals, turtles, reptiles, etc. Some of the pins were so large that it almost looked like wall art. One in particular, a zebra, was shaped so that it could be worn over the shoulder and indeed, she did wear it like that to meet with Nelson Mandela.
Her botanical pins were wonderful. She also had pins with "edge" and we saw swords, assault rifles, etc. Some were so modern it was hard to imagine where they were made and some were patriotic - using the American flag in many various artistic ways.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT’S PINS, Czech Museum, Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Guest post by Barbara Siebenschuh

This silver "Liberty" brooch by Gijs Bakker allows both Albright and her guest to tell time.

One could not take pictures of these pins. [You can see a slide show of some of the pins at the Bowers Museum website, the New Yorker blog, and the Mint Museum website.]There was a book in the gift shop featuring the exhibit. Madeleine had also loaned her festival dress from when she was about ten or twelve back in the old country. It was on display nearby with a photo of her.
The gift shop featured an artist I have admired for some time. Much of his work is for sale at a local shop called Glassando. His name is Michael Michaud and he does delicate and accurate botanical designs in jewelry. Unfortunately, he is pretty pricey. We then proceeded to Mount Vernon to a wonderfully packed antique shop where we all had our take on vital nostalgia pieces. We stopped at the Dairy Queen too on the way back to Iowa City. It was a lovely day without rain and just working up to hot and humid.
Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection
May 11-Oct. 27, 2013
National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
Open Monday-Saturday 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday Noon- 4 p.m.
(319) 362-8500

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