BGC is excited to announce our 2021-22 exhibitions which cover a range of thought-provoking topics that advance the study of design history, decorative arts, and material culture.

Majolica Mania: Transatlantic Pottery in England and the United States, 1850–1915
September 24, 2021 – January 2, 2022

Majolica Mania, an exhibition and accompanying three-volume catalogue, will create new awareness and appreciation for 19th-century English and American majolica. Colorful, wildly imaginative, and technically innovative, this ceramic ware was functional and aesthetic, modern and historicizing. Its subject matter reflects a range of Victorian preoccupations, from botany and zoology to popular humor and the macabre. The exhibition will explore the considerable impact of majolica, from wares used in domestic conservatories and dining rooms to monumental pieces displayed at world’s fairs.

The largest exhibition of majolica ever mounted, Majolica Mania will feature approximately 350 objects drawn from major private collections in the United States as well as from leading public collections in America and England, including the Maryland Historical Society, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, and Victoria and Albert Museum. A digital exhibition, a companion to the in-person Gallery exhibition, is now online.

Richard Tuttle: What is the Object?
February – July 2022

Curated by the celebrated contemporary artist Richard Tuttle, the exhibition is BGC’s most experimental to date. Reflecting the artist’s inquisitive and playful approach to meaning-making, visitors will be invited to a tactile interaction with 75 items drawn from Tuttle’s personal collection of objects. The visitor will be prompted to lift objects from their pedestals, touching and interacting with items ranging from ceramic teacups and decorative sculptures to vintage fabrics and antique curios. Each object will be accompanied by an index card outlining the object’s biography—clue cards that hint at Tuttle’s own relationship with his collection, amassed over decades. While present, this information is secondary to the visitor’s own experience of the collection. In holding the objects in their own hands, visitors plumb the layers of meaning that they themselves assign to the objects, bringing to life the conceptual goals of the exhibition. The exhibition will also feature some of Tuttle’s art works as well as sculptural furniture he designed to display the objects, calling into question What is the Object?

Conserving Active Matter
February – July 2022

Conserving Active Matter explores the science, philosophy, and art of conserving objects in an era of dynamic materials, tangible and intangible threats to cultural heritage, and shifting academic perspectives on conservation. The exhibition gives audiences an appreciation for conservation as a subjective practice, performed in different ways across cultures, but a common thread throughout history that marks our shared humanity. Featuring objects from five different continents ranging from mummification tools and religious statuary to European paintings and garments from around the world, Conserving Active Matter encourages audiences to consider different philosophies and traditions of conservation.

Shaped by the Loom: Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest
Launches February 2022

Presented as a digital exhibition, Shaped by the Loom will showcase the American Museum of Natural History’s collection of textiles created by Indigenous people from the greater American Southwest, bringing into dialogue multiple aspects of making, including the tangible and the intangible, the visual and the tacit. By exploring the various modes and contexts of intercultural influence and adaptation, the exhibition examines the trans-historical conditions that catalyzed changing practices within the medium. Shaped by the Loom strives to de-formalize Navajo weaving to shift our analysis away from the development of periods, designs, and styles toward an alternative framework that emphasizes Native agency in the history of textile production.

Threads of Power: Lace in the Collection of the Textilmuseum St. Gallen
September 2022 – January 2023

Threads of Power will explore the artisanship and cultural history of this iconic art form, valued for its intricate and open patterns that at once shield and reveal what lies beneath, whether it be velvet or skin. Organized in collaboration with the Textilmuseum in St. Gallen, Switzerland, the exhibition will explore the development of lace from its 16th-century origins to the present, bringing together approximately 175 examples of laceworks from the Textilmuseum’s collection that will be on view in the U.S. for the first time. The exhibition will illustrate how handmade lace became a signifier of power and wealth in the courts of Habsburg Spain and Bourbon France until it fell from favor in the wake of the French Revolution. In the late-19th and early-20th centuries, lace’s popularity was revived as technology enabled machine-made laces. The exhibition will also include new research focused on lace technologies, practices, and fashions from the 19th to the 21st centuries, and showcase commissions of lace from St. Gallen by contemporary fashion designers. Contemporary couture closes the exhibition, revealing new innovations in lace production that will shape this global industry’s future.