Carnegie Museum of Natural History

For more information, contact: Leigh Kish
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
412.622.3361 (0), 412.526.8587 (C)

December 8, 2011


Madeleine Albright’s pins come to Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection
December 13, 2011–March 4, 2012

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania…During her career in public service, Madeleine Albright famously used her jewelry to communicate diplomatic messages. From Tuesday, December 13, 2011, to Sunday, March 4, 2012, Carnegie Museum of Natural History presents the exhibition Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection, which reveals an intriguing story of American history and foreign policy as told through more than 200 of Secretary Albright’s jeweled pins. On Monday, December 12, the day before the exhibition opens, Albright speaks about the exhibition and the related book as part of the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Literary Evenings series. Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection is the first project of Carnegie Museum’s newly launched Center for World Cultures.
Organized by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the exhibition features more than 200 pieces of jewelry. The collection that Secretary Albright cultivated is distinctive and democratic—sometimes demure and understated, sometimes outlandish and outspoken—spanning more than a century of jewelry design and including fascinating pieces from across the globe. The works on view are chosen for their symbolic value, and while some are fine antiques, many are costume jewelry. Together the pieces in this expressive collection explore the power of jewelry to communicate through a style and language of its own.
Jewelry became part of Albright’s diplomatic arsenal in 1994 when Saddam Hussein’s government-controlled press referred to Albright, who was at that time U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, as an “unparalleled serpent.” At her next meeting on the subject of Iraq, Albright wore a golden snake brooch, beginning a career-long practice of using jewelry to convey and reinforce diplomatic messages.
“While President George H.W. Bush had been known for saying ‘Read my lips,’ I began urging colleagues and reporters to ‘Read my pins’,” Albright has said. Through this traveling exhibition and the accompanying book Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box (2009), Secretary Albright has given the world an opportunity to explore American history and foreign policy through the unique lens of jewelry.

About the Lecture
Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection kicks off on Monday, December 12, 2011, when Secretary Albright appears as a featured speaker for one of ten LITERARY EVENINGS presented by Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures and made possible by the Drue Heinz Trust. Albright will discuss her jewel box diplomacy, take questions from the audience, and sign copies of Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box (Harper Collins, 2009). With more than 1800 seats reserved, this lecture is now sold out. The lecture is presented in partnership with Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection has been organized by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. Generous support for the original exhibition was provided by Bren Simon and for the exhibition catalogue by St. John Knits. Read My Pins is locally sponsored by First Niagara, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, and Louis Anthony Jewelers.

Center for World Cultures
Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Center for World Cultures is devoted to the study of how cultures have developed over time as humans evolve, react to, and change the natural environment. A major focus for the Center’s researchers and educators is the search for new approaches to studying and sharing the museum’s archaeological and ethnographic collections. The Center also produces exhibitions, festivals, and publications that celebrate the diversity of cultures around the world. The Center for World Cultures was launched in December 2011 and is under the direction of Sandra Olsen.


Carnegie Museum of Natural History, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, is among the top natural history museums in the country. It maintains, preserves, and interprets an extraordinary collection of 22 million objects and scientific specimens used to broaden understanding of evolution, conservation, and biodiversity. Carnegie Museum of Natural History generates new scientific knowledge, advances science literacy, and inspires visitors of all ages to become passionate about science, nature, and world cultures. More information is available by calling 412.622.3131 or by visiting the website,