Skip to content

For the Birds

Start Date 13 April 2018
End Date 03 February 2019
Venue Kent State University Museum
Location Kent, USA

Remarkable for their ability to fly, birds have long held fascination for people around the world. In various ways, birds have provided inspiration for fashion and the decorative arts. Certain birds have meaning in various cultures and their use have had important symbolic value. Feathers have been incorporated into fashion particularly hats, fans, and evening dresses. Images of birds have served as motifs on garments from China and India to Europe and the Americas.

In fact, the popularity of birds in fashion led to fears of the extinction of many species by the beginning of the twentieth century. As a result, organizations such as the Audubon Society were formed to protect these beautiful animals and ultimately led to the passage in the United States of the Migratory Bird Act of 1918. As we celebrate the centennial of this important legislation, 2018 has been declared the Year of the Bird.

This exhibition explores the levels of meaning birds can convey as well as the variety of their uses by showcasing the ways that bird have provided material and inspiration for fashion and decorative arts. The pieces range from hats, jewelry, and kimonos to ceramics and lace. The exhibition is organized by type of birds and includes peacocks, ostriches, cranes, roosters and eagles.