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July 15, 2024

The Brooklyn Museum Announces Solid Gold, an Expansive Exhibition Exploring Gold Through Six Thousand Years of History

Solid Gold

Commemorating the Brooklyn Museum’s 200th Anniversary, the exhibition will feature over 400 gold objects ranging from fashion, jewelry, and luxury objects to painting, sculpture, and film

Gold—as a medium and a color—has held significance throughout human history. It is often used to represent the apex of beauty, honor, joy, ritual, spirituality, success, and wealth. It has been transformed into myriad forms: from millennia-old depictions of an idealized world to thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Italian altarpieces, from Japanese screens to haute couture fashions, one-of-a-kind jewelry and contemporary sculptures. On the occasion of its 200th anniversary, sponsored by Bank of America, the Brooklyn Museum will mount the immersive exhibition Solid Gold, exploring the precious yellow metal in its multifarious forms. Visitors will learn about and understand the origins, artistic techniques, and expert craftsmanship of goldsmithing, and the lasting impact that gold has had across six thousand years of human history. The exhibition is on view from November 15, 2024 through July 6, 2025, and is curated by Matthew Yokobosky, with Catherine Futter and Lisa Small.

“Solid Gold will transport visitors through the many worlds of gold, its joyful (though sometimes heartbreaking) histories, and its innumerable luminous expressions across cultures, past and present.” says Matthew Yokobosky, Senior Curator of Fashion and Material Culture, Brooklyn Museum. “As a museum dedicated to bridging art and people in shared experiences, audiences will find inspiration, opening them to unexplored realms of beauty in their world.”

“Bank of America struck gold over a decade ago when our relationship with Brooklyn Museum began,” said José Tavarez, president, Bank of America New York City. “Over the years, together we have celebrated the vibrancy of New York City’s arts and culture, conserved significant works of art and engaged the Brooklyn community – and beyond. We are now honored to stand beside the museum to commemorate its 200th Anniversary.”

Organized in eight sections, Solid Gold will present historical works in visual juxtaposition and “collisions” with contemporary objects and fashions, sparking dynamic conversations across time and space. Entry galleries explore manifestations of ancient gold, pairing antiquities from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection with iconic twentieth- and twenty-first-century objects. Highlights include a large wooden sarcophagus from Dynasty 22 (945–740 BCE), which will be on display to the public for the first time in over one hundred years. The coffin is decorated with images and inscriptions painted with yellow orpiment pigments to imitate gold inlays. An extraordinary “horde” of one-hundred-eighty-one individual gold pieces from the Hellenistic period and a selection of ancient jewelry, helmets, and chainmail span three millennia of creation across Egypt, the Mediterranean coast, and the pre-Hispanic Americas, illustrating the ancient world’s fascination with the metal.

Contemporary objects echo the allure of Ancient Egypt, including the prototype of a fly necklace made for legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor for the film Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963); couture gowns by edgy New York–based fashion house The Blonds, drawing from their “Egypt Meets Disco” collection (2016); and theatrical gowns from Christian Dior (2004; John Galliano, creative director) that blend elements of Egyptian history and Dior’s then-controversial “H-Line” from 1954. A dress by Azzedine Alaïa for Tina Turner (1989) exemplifies modern applications of draped chainmail (with pearls). Displays of gold chains continue with modern interpretations like the “dookie rope” and “Cuban links,” celebrating their popularity throughout hip-hop culture in the 1980s and onward.

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