Jewels of the Nile: Ancient Egyptian Treasures from the Worcester Art Museum

June 18, 2022 – January 29, 2023

<em>Gold Ring of Sekhmet</em>, ancient Egyptian, New Kingdom, about 1539–1077 BCE, gold, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 1926.97
Gold Ring of Sekhmet, ancient Egyptian, New Kingdom, about 1539–1077 BCE, gold, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 1926.97

The magnificence of ancient Egypt comes to brilliant life through jewelry—the most precious and personal of human possessions—in this expansive exhibition at WAM. Timed to open 100 years after the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb, Jewels of the Nile: Ancient Egyptian Treasures from the Worcester Art Museum puts the Museum’s collection of early Egyptian jewelry on view for the first time in a century. Remarkable for both its breadth and quality, this collection was assembled by Kingsmill Marrs (d. 1912) and Laura Norcross Marrs (1845 – 1926) and given to WAM by Mrs. Marrs.

Jewels of the Nile showcases 300 objects, ranging from tiny beads and gems to large sculptures from the Museum’s other Egyptian holdings. Through the singular story of Kingsmill and Laura Marrs and their friendship with British archaeologist Howard Carter, the exhibition also delves into the materials and techniques used in the creation of personal adornments, the evolution of style over the centuries, and the early twentieth-century phenomenon of Egyptomania sparked by archaeological exploration in the region. Interactive components and interpretive programs will allow visitors of all ages to explore and experience themselves this fascinating aspect of ancient Egyptian culture.

Laura Marrs was the daughter of Boston mayor Otis Norcross (1811-1882) and wife of amateur photographer Kingsmill Marrs (d. 1912). During a trip to Egypt in 1908, the Marrs met archaeologist Howard Carter (1874-1939), who would later discover Tutankhamun’s tomb. The Marrs struck up a friendship with Carter, and they wrote letters and visited one another in Florence, Italy, and in Luxor, Egypt. Carter also advised them on purchasing antiquities—particularly jewelry, which was legal at that time. With his knowing eye and the Marrses' acumen, together they assembled a truly outstanding collection.

The exhibition is curated by Peter Lacovara, Ph.D., Director of The Ancient Egyptian Archaeology and Heritage Fund; and Yvonne Markowitz, Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator Emerita of Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Press Release

This exhibition is made possible through the generous support from Dr. Sohail Masood, his wife Mona Masood, and their children Laila Masood and Omar Masood.

Additional funding is provided by the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation, Inc., the Fletcher Foundation, and Sandy Hubbard and Thomas J. Logan. Related programming is supported by the Schwartz Charitable Foundation.

Sponsored by: Kaplan Construction, Patrick Motors and Webster Five.

Media partners: The Boston Globe and WGBH

Related Programs

Master Series Third Thursday

Amulets and Adornments from Islamic Lands

Thursday, May 19, 6pm
Speaker: Courtney Ann Stewart, Researcher of Islamic Art History, and the History of Jewelry and Gemstones.

Presented with support from the Bernard and Louise Palitz Fund and the Amelia and Robert H. Haley Memorial Lecture Fund.

Master Series is sponsored by Abbvie.

Jewels of the Night logo

Exhibition Opening Party – “Jewels of the Night”

Friday, June 17
7-10pm
5:30pm-7pm VIP, Salisbury Giving Society Members Special Reception

Let your jewels shine and be the first to see Jewels of the Nile at our black-and-white themed opening cocktail party!

Learn more

Press

Worcester Magazine
Ancient Egyptian bling: WAM exhibit examines power and symbolism of 'Jewels of the Nile'
By Veer Mudambi, March 30, 2022

Rapaport Magazine
Pharaonic Finds: The wonders of Egyptian jewelry come to life in a new book and exhibition from the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts.
By Phyllis Schiller, March, 2021

Selected Images

<em>String of Beads and Amulets</em>, ancient Egyptian, Middle Kingdom, about 1980–1760 BCE, amazonite (green feldspar), Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 1925.641
String of Beads and Amulets, ancient Egyptian, Middle Kingdom, about 1980–1760 BCE, amazonite (green feldspar), Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 1925.641
<em>Openwork Wedjat Eye</em>, ancient Egyptian, Third Intermediate Period, about 1076–655 BCE, polychrome faience, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 1925.675
Openwork Wedjat Eye, ancient Egyptian, Third Intermediate Period, about 1076–655 BCE, polychrome faience, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 1925.675
<em>Scarab</em>, ancient Egyptian, Late Period, about 664–332 BCE, red jasper, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 1926.30
Scarab, ancient Egyptian, Late Period, about 664–332 BCE, red jasper, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 1926.30
<em>Faience Scarab Ring</em>, ancient Egyptian, scarab: New Kingdom, about 1539–1077 BCE; gold mount: modern, faience and gold, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 1926.84
Faience Scarab Ring, ancient Egyptian, scarab: New Kingdom, about 1539–1077 BCE; gold mount: modern, faience and gold, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 1926.84
Brooch Featuring an Ancient Scarab in a Modern Winged Mount, unmarked, (plaquette) New Kingdom, ca. 1539 – 1077 BCE; (gold mount) late 1800s – early 1900s, glazed steatite and gold (modern)
Brooch Featuring an Ancient Scarab in a Modern Winged Mount, unmarked, (plaquette) New Kingdom, ca. 1539 – 1077 BCE; (gold mount) late 1800s – early 1900s, glazed steatite and gold (modern), 2.6 x 3.6 x 1.5 cm. Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 1926.86
<em>Fish Scaraboid</em>, ancient Egyptian, New Kingdom, about 1539–1077 BCE, blue glazed steatite, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 1926.94
Fish Scaraboid, ancient Egyptian, New Kingdom, about 1539–1077 BCE, blue glazed steatite, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 1926.94
<em>Necklace with Fish Pendants</em>, ancient Egyptian, New Kingdom, about 1539–1077 BCE, carnelian, various hardstones, and glass frit, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 2001.119
Necklace with Fish Pendants, ancient Egyptian, New Kingdom, about 1539–1077 BCE, carnelian, various hardstones, and glass frit, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 2001.119
<em>Monkey Amulet</em>, ancient Egyptian, Middle Kingdom, about 1980–1760 BCE, carnelian, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 2001.124
Monkey Amulet, ancient Egyptian, Middle Kingdom, about 1980–1760 BCE, carnelian, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection, 2001.124
“Jewels of the Nile” exhibition catalog cover

Exhibition Catalog

This exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated book, published by the Worcester Art Museum, which brings to light these ancient treasures using the letters of the Marrs and Howard Carter and exquisite photographs of the Marrs collection. The catalog is written by the curators Peter Lacovara and Yvonne Markowitz, with contributions by Paula Artal-Isbrand, Worcester Art Museum Objects Conservator, Erin R Musak; and Richard Newman. This book, edited by Sue D’Auria, is available for purchase in the Museum Shop ($49.95 hardcover, $39.95 paperback).

For mail orders, please call the Shop at 508.793.4355 or email shopsales@worcesterart.org.