FAMILY SILVER: HIGHLIGHTS FROM
THE LIANG YI COLLECTION
Opening Spring 2021
Family Silver: Highlights from the Liang Yi Collection is a landmark exhibition presenting 150 sets of historic silver from the 18th to 20th century, drawn solely from the Museum’s permanent collection. The exhibition showcases the heritage, design and craftsmanship of this rare metal; explores the lineages of generations of silversmiths; and traces how silverware functions as family heirlooms.
Silver has long been used in the East and West, both as a type of currency and as a canvas for extraordinary workmanship. This precious material has been praised for its beauty; intrinsic value; flexibility; and durability for centuries. Aristocrats have long had a tradition of commissioning silver to mark important occasions such as weddings, births and deaths; allowing these historic pieces to inspire a greater understanding of pivotal events. Each piece recounts a story that constitutes an immediate connection to the past.
Family Silver is divided into nine sections: lighting; writing; dining; display; toilette; coffee and tea service; alcohol service; vanities; and Asian silver. Highlight galleries include a recreated Chinoiserie reading room; a dining hall that illuminates the evolution of dining traditions in the West; and interactive galleries that teach visitors how to read hallmarks and coats of arms. Key exhibits include a pair of candelabra made in 1837 presented to Howe Peter Browne, 2nd Marquess of Sligo (1788-1845) by the slaves he emancipated in Jamaica; and a 19th-century silver-gilt tray with Napoleon I's coat of arms (1769-1821). Both pieces are not only major artistic accomplishments in their own right, but also demonstrate the major historical events silver pieces have witnessed.