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Detroit Institute of Arts displays Collection of early American Silver after 10 Years in Storage

The collection, which features work by the famed Boston silversmith and patriot Paul Revere, has been a must-see for generations of Detroit school children. The collection will be on view beginning Jan. 17.

Sugar Basket, Paul Revere, about 1780, silver. Detroit Institute of Arts 35.40

The collection was relegated to storage in 2002 when the renovation of the museum’s historic 1927 building led to the closing of the American colonial galleries. Lack of funding for new exhibition cases meant the silver collection had to remain in storage when the museum reopened in 2007. In 2011, the Americana Foundation, based in Novi, Michigan, awarded the DIA a substantial grant for new research on the silver collection and to support construction of new state-of-the-art exhibition cases to house it. The Americana Foundation was established by Adolph H. Meyer and Ginger Meyer. It supports educational and advocacy programs that address the preservation of American agriculture; the conservation of natural resources; and the protection and presentation of material expressions of America’s heritage, with a particular focus on decorative arts from the colonial and early Federal periods.

The new installation will include 59 of the most important examples of early American silver at the DIA and two important late18th-century Chinese export bowls. Highlights of the new installation include:

Tankard (about 1695). A rare drinking vessel made in Boston by Edward Winslow

Sugar Bowl with Cover (about 1755). Made in New York by Myer Myers. Myers was the most important Jewish silversmith active in colonial America. This sugar bowl was donated to the DIA in 1955 by “Members of the Jewish Community of Detroit in honor of the American Jewish Tercentenary 1654–1954.”

Sugar Basket (about 1780). Made in Boston by the master silversmith and patriot Paul Revere

Teapot (early 1790s). Made in Boston by the master silversmith and patriot Paul Revere

Punch Bowl (about 1790). Chinese export porcelain, made for the American market, with Masonic markings

On Wednesday, Jan. 16, the DIA auxiliary Associates of the American Wing will celebrate the reinstallation of the silver collection and thank the Americana Foundation for its support by hosting a talk by Gerry Ward, Katharine Lane Weems Senior Curator Emeritus of American Decorative Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Ward will speak on “A Handsome Cupboard of Plate: The Role of Silver in American Art Life.” The talk is at 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The talk will be followed by a dinner open to members of the Associates of the American Wing. To reserve a place at the dinner or for information about joining the Associates of the American Wing, contact Rachael Goodwin at 313-833-4025 or [email protected].

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