For the tenth anniversary of the Intermediatheque, this special exhibition presents historical masterpieces of jewelry with birds as a motif, alongside first-grade Natural History specimens including bird taxidermy specimens as well as related scientific documents. Organized by the University Museum, the University of Tokyo (UMUT) and L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts, an initiation school aiming to introduce the public to all aspects of jewelry culture and created in 2012 with the support of the French High Jewelry Maison Van Cleef & Arpels, the exhibition stages a dialogue between birds, both real and rendered through various means of expression, to explore how birds have been described scientifically and researched upon, and how they have been depicted through drawings, to see how these forms of expression inspired the craftsmanship of jewelry.
This exhibition is the tenth instalment of the Intermediatheque Natural History series.
Organizers: The University Museum, the University of Tokyo (UMUT) + L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts, supported by Van Cleef & Arpels
Cooperation: Yamashina Institute for Ornithology
Support: Van Cleef & Arpels
Curation: Intermediatheque Department (UMUT) + Department of International Design Studies (UMUT)
These richly ornamental jewels, crafted according to the highest techniques onto the most precious materials, can be seen as a summit of crafts. On the other hand, in order to understand the jewelry artists’ viewpoints, it is essential to turn to the actual birds that inspired them in creating their works. For the first time in Japan, about one hundred masterpieces of jewelry depicting birds crafted by various artists and maisons, from the mid-19th century to the contemporary era, will be shown alongside a selection of essential Natural History specimens from the collections of the University Museum, the University of Tokyo (UMUT) as well as the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology. From this selection, we will focus on historical specimens and drawings of birds, thus staging a dialogue on birds from the perspective of Art and Science.
In this exhibition, the visitors will also be able to know more about the biological meaning of the diversity in bird coloration and plumage, and how that has inspired human design, while experiencing the enigmatic evolution of birds defying human imagination. From the standpoint of Natural Sciences, we will also focus on the birds of paradise – which partly inspired the exhibition title. Birds of paradise are aptly named because of their sheer beauty, but this poetic name hides a complex history with many legends, also pertaining to their preservation.
The scenography of the present exhibition will fittingly transform the Intermediatheque into a poetic space developing from night birds to daytime birds and then to birds of fantasy, going from obscurity to light and then to a world of fantasy.
About L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts
Founded in 2012 on Place Vendôme in Paris with the support of Van Cleef & Arpels, L’ÉCOLE is the first school in the world to open the world of jewelry arts to the general public. In addition to courses, talks and exhibitions held throughout the year at its two permanent campuses in Paris and Hong Kong, special programs are held in major international cities such as Tokyo, New York, and Dubai, expanding the scope of learning to a worldwide scale. L’ÉCOLE also supports research in a variety of ways through exhibitions, publications, partnerships with museums and other academic institutions, online educational videos, and a library specialized in jewelry arts.
＜Official Video Channel＞
Special Exhibition “Birds in Paradise”