By Erica Lome
The Luxury of Time: European Clocks and Watches
On Exhibit through March 27, 2016
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, NY
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently showing “The Luxury of Time: European Clocks and Watches”, an exhibition drawn from its extensive collection of French, English, Dutch, German, and Swiss timepieces. This exhibit highlights unique horological instruments from the 16th through the 19th centuries, renowned for both their superior decorative qualities and their technical craftsmanship.
Clocks and watches have long been a mark of artistic and cultural refinement in European society, with the tradition of clock making being one of particular skill and exclusivity. At the time they were made, these timepieces were important decorative objects, distinguishing their owner and adding an aesthetic complement to any interior. Today, visitors can appreciate their beauty while learning about important developments in European clock making.
The Met’s holdings include around 600 rare and priceless timepieces, many of which were donated by some of the museum’s wealthiest patrons. In 1917, J.P. Morgan donated about 250 watches and clocks, joining Simon Guggenheim and Irwin Untermyer’s noteworthy collections.
The gallery, which features approximately 46 select examples from the museum’s impressive collection, includes objects that have not been out of storage for nearly a decade. Noteworthy specimens include Berthoud’s ebony and gilt-bronze Longcase astronomical regulator clock and the opulent Lepaute gilt-bronze mantel clock. The Museum is also pleased to display a recently acquired work: an automaton clock made in Nuremberg in the early 17th century depicting Urania, muse of astronomy.
For clock and watch lovers, this special exhibition is not to be missed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be showing “The Luxury of Time: European Clocks and Watches” through March 27th, 2016. Open seven days a week, the museum has recommended admission of $25 for adults, $17 for seniors, $12 for students, with children under 12 free.
On Exhibit through March 28, 2016
Mystic Seaport is hosting an exciting show of nautical and maritime-themed timepieces, as part of a touring exhibition titled “Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude,” on view until March 28th, 2016. Mystic Seaport is only one of four sites worldwide selected to present this exhibit, which originated at the National Maritime Museum in London.
The show is based around the history of longitude, and how it was able to be determined at sea. Drawing on recent research and presenting a narrative format, “Ships, Clocks & Stars” incorporates the efforts of astronomers, philosophers and artisans in this breakthrough endeavor. Among the featured materials are the innovative timekeepers from John Harrison, who in the eighteenth century set forth to solve the challenge set forth by multiple nations during the golden age of sea travel. Yet the exhibition also seeks to highlight the collaboration and investment undertaken by lesser-known participants in this global project. Famous names such as Galileo, Isaac Newton, James Cook, and William Bligh are all featured alongside 148 artifacts and art objects.
Highlighted pieces from the show include three working replicas of Harrison’s H1, H2, and H3 timekeepers, and the original case of the successful H4. Also featured is the original Longitude Act of 1714 and an intricate 1747 model of the Centurian, the ship which carried out the first proper sea trial of Harrison’s H1. Artifacts from the Royal Observatory are on display as well, which became the testing site for marine timekeepers and the place at which the astronomical observations needed for navigational tables were made. An elegant, padded silk “observing suit” worn by Nevil Maskelyne during the 1760s at the Observatory’s Greenwich site is a featured piece.
Suitable for all ages, “Ships, Clocks, & Stars: The Quest for Longitude” is a participatory and informative exhibition on view at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut until March 28th, 2016. The Museum is open Thursday-Sunday, 10am – 4pm and will be open from March 26th-October 30th daily from 9am-5pm. General admission is $25, seniors are $23, youth ages 6-17 are $12, and children 5 and under are free.