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Past Exhibitions


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A Bead Quiz

Aug 5 2008 – Feb 12 2010

Seattle Art Museum

Third Floor Galleries

SAM Video: Art studio interviews with Daniel Adams,
Lori Talcott, Cynthia Toops and Nancy Warden, local artists featured in A Bead Quiz.


Beads travel vast distances, pulling different parts of the world together like miniature magnets. In this installation, you'll see how small glass "seed beads," manufactured in the Czech Republic and Venice, Italy, have circled the globe. They decorate a hat for a storyteller from Tibet, a flag for a ceremony in Haiti, garments for a bride in South Africa and for a horse in Japan.

Just as beads traverse the world in unpredictable ways, this installation will not be strictly geographic. Instead, you'll be able to test how far your knowledge of this distinctive medium can take you. There will be beads made out of ostrich egg shells, bamboo, glass, human bone, gourds, metal, coral and plastic. Small beads, the size of a seed, are used to form densely constructed patterns; others, large globes of amber or turquoise, establish bold accents. Bead connoisseurship can be both about the bead itself and about where it has traveled to take hold as an art form.

As a final test for the bead expert, the gallery will feature a collection of bead necklaces by an accomplished world traveler who has sought out hundreds of strands from remote locations. If you can identify each and every bead and where it was strung, your expertise as a world bead connoisseur is assured. Let the test begin.

–Pam McClusky, Curator of Art of Africa and Oceania

Educational Resources
To explore this exhibition a little deeper, attend some of the related programs and events for kids, teens and adults or download our bibliography.