Madeleine Albright's brooch diplomacy goes on show

Thu Oct 22, 2009 12:40pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - As one of the world's top diplomats, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had a unique way of communicating her moods and intentions -- through her brooches, many of which are now on display in New York.

Her brooches may have been delicate and beautiful but they all came with a message, such as wearing a wasp pin to a meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to deliver a tough message or a welcoming sun for South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.

More than 200 brooches from Albright's personal jewelry collection feature in an exhibition "Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection," at Manhattan's Museum of Arts and Design until January 2010.

Chief Curator David Revere McFadden said this was the first major exhibition of Albright's jewelry and is filled with colorful pins worn when she was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 1993 to 1997 and U.S. Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001.

"They were all chosen for this exhibition to reveal the way in which Secretary Albright used pins as a communication device to send messages to people, to give clues as to what she was thinking, what she was doing, what she hoped the outcome might be for some of her negotiations," McFadden told Reuters Television.

Albright's use of her jewelry as means of expression was born out of a conflict with Iraq's Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War in 1994 and is the subject of her recently released book, "Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box."

When Albright criticized the Iraqi leader for failing to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors, she was referred to in the government-controlled Iraqi press as "an unparalleled serpent."

When she returned home she found a serpent brooch to wear on her next trip to Iraq -- and from then on jewelry became part of her personal diplomatic arsenal.

Exhibit organizers said Albright's use of her jewelry was sometimes understated, sometimes outlandish, but could be the ultimate expression of quiet diplomacy.   Continued...

<p>U.S. Secretary of State Madelaine Albright addresses a news conference after a G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in London June 12. REUTERS/Paul Hackett</p>