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Modernist Jewellery

Thursday 9 November, 2017

A remarkable collection of Modernist jewellery will go on display at the National Museum of Scotland next month, when Modernist Jewellery opens on Friday 1 December.

Modernist Jewellery

Friday 1 December 2017 to Sunday 15 July 2018
National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh
Admission: FREE


A remarkable collection of Modernist jewellery will go on display at the National Museum of Scotland next month, when Modernist Jewellery opens on Friday 1 December.

This intimate display will feature pieces acquired by National Museums Scotland through the Art Fund New Collecting Award project Northern Modernist Jewellery, which was awarded to Sarah Rothwell, Curator of Modern & Contemporary Design in 2015. The project focuses on collecting, researching and disseminating jewellery designed and manufactured in Britain and Northern Europe between 1945 and 1978.

On display will be examples of innovative design ranging from pieces showcasing the minimalist beauty of silver to highly textured gold work. The selection of jewellery, which includes brooches, bangles, necklaces, earrings and pendants, highlights the varying styles of the designers from the Modernist movement both within the Nordic countries and Britain.

Modernist Jewellery will explore designers and makers who embraced innovative and diverse influences. These include Swedish designer Sigurd Persson, known for his individual style and elegant simple sculptural forms, and Finnish designer Björn Weckström, whose ground-breaking sculptural jewellery was inspired by the texture of gold nuggets found in Finnish Lapland. Their work highlights how Scandinavian and Finnish designers led the way with the minimalist Modernist aesthetic of the north, which defined a generation.

Furthermore, Modernist Jewellery will shine a light on British Modernist jewellery from this period which, unlike other British post-war design movements, has often been overlooked. Pieces from both British and Nordic designers will showcase how individual designers came to influence - or were influenced by - Modernism between 1945 and 1978. This includes British designer Ernest Blyth, whose earliest works were inspired by the clean angles and forms of Scandinavian Modernist design.

Sarah Rothwell, Curator of Modern & Contemporary Design at National Museums Scotland said,

“The works that have been collected for this project and which will be on display in Modernist Jewellery highlight how individual designers and artists created unique works that were inspired by not only the artistic movement of Modernism and its principles, but by the natural environment, and the material exploration they were conducting. The resulting pieces range from the simplicity and functionalism that marked Nordic Modernism; to the highly textural gold work that became a symbol of British Modernist jewellery.”

Stephen Deuchar, Director, Art Fund said,

“This is a fascinating exhibition that tells the story of British & Northern European Modernism in its most wearable form. Thanks to the vision of its talented curator Sarah Rothwell, who was awarded an Art Fund New Collecting Award to build a special collection in this field, the beautiful objects on show will remain forever with National Museums Scotland, publicly available for all to enjoy.”

For further information and images please contact Jessica Rideout, Press Office, National Museums Scotland, tel 0131 247 4391,

Notes to Editors

  1. National Museums Scotland is one of the leading museum groups in the UK and Europe and it looks after collections of national and international importance. The organisation provides loans, partnerships, research and training in Scotland and internationally. Our individual museums are the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum. The National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh houses conservation and research facilities as well as collections not currently on display.
  2. The National Museum of Scotland is the most popular museum in the country outside of London (source: Association of Leading Visitor Attractions). The National Museum of Scotland was awarded ‘Gold’ Level Green Tourism Visitor Attraction status in 2016. 
  3. Bheireadh Oifis nam Meadhanan eadar-theangachadh Gàidhlig den bhrath-naidheachd seachad do bhuidhinn mheadhanan bharantaichte. Cuiribh fios do dh'Oifis nam Meadhanan airson bruidhinn air cinn-latha freagarrach.
  4. About Art Fund: Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 123,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant-giving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by the The Hepworth Wakefield in 2017) and a range of digital platforms. Find out more about Art Fund and the National Art Pass at


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