I felt so compelled to share a visit to my local art museum recently. The featured exhibit is called, Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection, featuring over 200 of her brooches. Madeleine Albright used pins to communicate subtle diplomatic messages or express her mood, during her career in public service as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1993-1997), and appointed first female Secretary of State (1997-2001).
On good days, she would wear flowers, butterflies or whimsical pins like the large zebra brooch worn on her shoulder when meeting Nelson Mandela. Faced with difficult times, she would select from her spiders, bugs or the notorious bee pin (which many related to the well known saying “I will float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”, used often by the famous boxer Muhammad Ali.)
Secretary Albright said, “I found that jewelry had become part of my personal diplomatic arsenal. While President George H. W. Bush has been known for saying ‘Read my lips’, I began urging colleagues and reporters to ‘Read my pins’.” (Of note: Most of the pins are inexpensive costume jewelry that Dr. Albright picked up at flea markets or souvenir shops.)
I hope you all get a chance to experience seeing this exhibit as it travels around the country, or check out the book, Read My Pins: Stories from A Diplomat’s Jewel Box, by Madeleine Albright, 2009. Who knows, it might encourage some of us to dig through those hidden brooches and pins that lay hidden in our drawers….and ‘READ OUR PINS’!