Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the first woman to hold that position, didn’t just wear her lapel pins for fashion. Albright sent pointed messages to world leaders with her brooches.
“I found that jewelry had become part of my personal diplomatic arsenal,” Albright said in a statement released by the Bellevue Arts Museum, which has more than 200 of Albright’s pins on display.
Albright’s collection includes a set of “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” monkeys, a red fox, a peace dove and a broken glass ceiling, which were worn to convey a message.
The exhibit will be in Bellevue through June 7. Albright also made appearances last week at the Bellevue Arts Museum.
Super #selfie with the students of #Bellevue at @WEareBAM! #tweetmypins pic.twitter.com/CdZNA6zVpl
— Madeleine Albright (@madeleine) March 19, 2015
Albright became the highest ranking woman U.S. history when she was named to the position of U.S. Secretary of State in 1997 by President Bill Clinton. Before that appointment, Albright was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Albright told The Seattle Times that she began to use her pins to send messages to her staff and to world leaders in her ambassador post in 1993, just after the Gulf War.
After she criticized Saddam Hussein, a Baghdad newspaper called her an “unparalleled serpent.” Albright responded by wearing a gold brooch with a snake.
Reporters, staffers and world leaders learned to read her pins, she said.
According to the Bellevue Arts Museum, the pieces displayed come from across the globe, and were collected by Albright for their symbolic value rather than their material worth.
Albright was born in Prague and immigrated to the United States as a child with her family. According to her memoir, Albright was motivated in her foreign policy by her family’s experience with fascism and communism. Among her goals was to promote democracy, stop ethnic cleansing and improve the lives of women and girls.
If you go
“Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection” is on view through June 7, 2015 at Bellevue Arts Museum.
What an inspiration to all of us. After seeing her collection, I have started my own. Madame Secretary, thank you for your gutsy, forthright example. May your considerable collection inspire many more!
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