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Press Room


Smithsonian American Art Museum Debuts Touring Exhibition "Modernism in American Silver" at its Renwick Gallery

Media only: Susan Kenney (202) 275-1592

"Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design" opens at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum on Sept. 16 and runs through Jan. 22, 2006. The exhibition is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and begins its national tour at the Renwick Gallery.

"Modernism in American Silver" will highlight more than 200 outstanding works, from art moderne to contemporary, by the foremost designers of production silver. Widely recognized figures such as Eliel Saarinen, Erik Magnussen, Robert Venturi, Michael Graves, Elsa Peretti and Richard Meier are among the featured designers. Many of the works included in the exhibition are from the Dallas Museum of Art's Jewel Stern American Silver Collection, which includes more than 400 examples of modernist silver.

"This landmark exhibition in the decorative arts field showcases an unparalleled collection of American silver. The stylistic breadth and aesthetic quality of these works are exceptional," said Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. "It is a privilege to have 'Modernism in American Silver' launch a national tour at the Renwick Gallery."

The exhibition's primary goal is to chart the stylistic design history of modern American production silver from 1925 to 2000 and reintroduce to the public the many designers working in the industry. The exhibition also will explore economic and cultural factors that influenced silver design, manufacture and marketing across more than seven decades and seven major thematic areas:
• The Modernist Impulse: Art Moderne
• The Machine Age: Streamline Design
• Modern Classicism
• Naturalism: Scandinavian Influences
• A New Look: Free Form and the 1950s
• Future Dreams: The Space Age
• The Boutique: Architects and Fashion Designers

"Modernism in American Silver" also will offer important revelations concerning the role of designers such as John Prip, Helen Hughes Dulany, Robert King, John Van Koert, Alexandra C. Solowij, Donald Colflesh and Tommi Parzinger.

"Craft artists who design for industry, and continue to make one-of-a-kind works, interject an aesthetic that reflects their technical virtuosity and understanding of what the material can do," said Jane Milosch, curator at the Renwick Gallery. "'Modernism in American Silver' offers a grand stage from which to appreciate how craft informs design, and how good design is a part of every well-crafted object."

Kevin W. Tucker, The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Dallas Museum of Art, is the project manager and co-curator. Charles L. Venable, deputy director for collections and programs at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and independent scholar Jewel Stern are the guest co-curators of this exhibition. Jane Milosch, curator, is coordinating the exhibition at the Renwick Gallery.


"Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design" was organized by the Dallas Museum of Art. The exhibition is supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Publication of the exhibition catalog was underwritten by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation. The James Renwick Alliance supports the exhibition's presentation at the Renwick Gallery.

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An accompanying catalogue will present a comprehensive examination of the works and serve as an important resource on American production silver—more extensive than any other of its kind currently available. Authored by Jewel Stern, the catalogue includes additional essays by Charles L. Venable and Kevin W. Tucker. Published by Yale University Press, the book will be approximately 390 pages in length with numerous, lavish color illustrations. The book will be available at the Renwick Gallery store, the museum's online shop and bookstores nationwide for $75.

Public Programs

A schedule of public programs, including lectures, artist demonstrations and performances is available in a brochure. Call (202) 233-0667 to request a copy by mail or visit the museum's online program calendar at

National Tour

Following its presentation at the Renwick Gallery, the exhibition will be on view at the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno (Feb. 11, 2006 to May 14, 2006), Dallas Museum of Art (June 18 through Sept. 24, 2006), The Wolfsonian - Florida International University, Miami (Nov. 17, 2006 through March 25, 2007), and the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, Tennessee (April 22 through July 15, 2007).

The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum is dedicated to exhibiting American crafts and decorative arts from the 19th to the 21st century. The Renwick is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W., near the Farragut North (Red line) and Farragut West (Blue and Orange lines) Metrorail stations. Museum hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Admission is free. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000; (202) 357-1729 (TTY). Recorded information: (202) 275-1500. Please visit the museum's award-winning Web site at

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Note to Editors: Selected high-resolution images for publicity only may be downloaded from Call (202) 275-1594 for the password. Additional information about the exhibition will be available in the museum's online press room.