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Virginia Museum of Fine Arts debuts historic exhibition at the National Museum of China
Sphere, 1966, Jean Schlumberger (French, 1907-1987), enamel, black lacquer, 18 carat gold. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon, 99.12

RICHMOND, VA.- The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts announces the opening of Jean Schlumberger: Twentieth Century Treasures from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts at the National Museum of China (NMC) in Beijing, on view May 30–Sept. 1, 2019. This historic exhibition is the result of a five-year cooperative agreement between the two institutions to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the United States and China. The agreement promotes the exchange of exhibitions, facilitates loans of artwork from each museums’ collection and allows the museums to jointly organize major exhibitions together.

“The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is honored to be the only American institution to have a partnership with the National Museum of China of this caliber,” said VMFA Director Alex Nyerges. “We have a longstanding history of collaboration with Chinese cultural institutions—the recent Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China exhibition at VMFA was drawn from the collections of 14 art museums and archaeological institutes across the Shaanxi province and attracted more than 211,000 visitors to the museum. We have no doubt that Jean Schlumberger will be similarly well received in China.”

The exhibition debuted at VMFA in 2017 under the title The Rachel Lambert Mellon Collection of Jean Schlumberger and has since traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg in Florida. It features more than 100 unique pieces of visually stunning jewelry and accessories designed by mid-20th century artist-jeweler Jean Schlumberger. From crafting costume jewelry for the Surrealist fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli in 1930s Paris to heading his own private salon at New York’s Tiffany & Co. beginning in the 1950s, Schlumberger was known for inventive interpretations of animal and botanical subjects and iconic pieces that came to define mid-century chic.

In September 2018, NMC Director Wang Chunfa visited VMFA to sign the cultural exchange agreement and tour the permanent collections with Nyerges, Dr. Michael Taylor, VMFA’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education and Dr. Leo Mazow, VMFA’s Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator and Head of the Department of American Art. Last month, Nyerges spoke at the Global Museum Directors Forum held at NMC that was attended by nearly 50 museum directors from around the world. Nyerges and Taylor will be in attendance at NMC for the opening of the exhibition on May 30.

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