As soon as you walk up the entry stairs, boom — it hits you. Plastered across the wall is Madeleine Albright on the cover of Newsweek with a headline that reads, “Mad About Madeleine. Washington Loves Her, Will the Rest of the World?”
That headline clearly sums up Albright’s time as Secretary of State for the Clinton administration and as the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations. The magazine cover also sets the mood for the exhibition “Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection” now open at Phoenix Art Museum.
Albright, as some may know, communicated her hopes and wishes for each day through her fashion pins.
The exhibition starts off with a gold pin of a snake wrapped around a branch, which Albright wore to a meeting about Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s press called her “an unparalleled serpent.” It was after this meeting that Albright began to express herself through her pins.
Dennita Sewell, the museum’s curator of fashion design, says the show is a great way for people of all ages to learn more about world events as well as Albright’s story.
“I thought it was extremely inspiring and clever what she did,” says Sewell. “She took something female and turned it into a diplomatic tool. Her character is inspiring.”
The exhibition walks viewers through roughly 200 of Albright’s brooches and pins, a fraction of her whole collection. Some pins are singled out, like the festive zebra pin she wore to meet Nelson Mandela. Others are grouped together, like bees and bugs, fruits and vegetables, and vintage presidential pins like one from Harry Truman’s campaign in 1948.
The pins are accompanied by maps of all of the countries Albright has visited as well as photos and descriptions, demonstrating to the viewer not just Albright’s pin collection, but her impact as a world leader.
The original exhibition started at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. It will be on display until April 20 at Phoenix Art Museum.
• Nicole, a junior at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for GetOut.