A beautiful brooch is a great conversation piece. Perhaps that is why Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State of the United States, collected hundreds of them throughout her life. During Middle East peace talks, nothing serves as a better icebreaker than a gold serpent resting on your lapel.
Miami Dade College brings her collection, "Read My Pins," to the Freedom Tower. You can see pins she wore during discussions integral to our country's peace, but some of these pins also stand on their own. For example, a blue bird pin created by Austrian jewelry designer Anton Lachmann circa 1880 is symbolic and also quite stunning. See it after the jump.
Just as intriguing as the pins themselves, is the story behind why she first started wearing them. After Albright criticized Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi press dubbed her a "serpent." She decided to thumb her nose at such nonsense by wearing a brooch of a snake wrapped around a golden branch every time she engaged in Iraqi situations. People noticed and she began to wear symbolic pins to diplomatic meetings and press conferences.
She continued to use pins to parlay a message and in 1996 it was a message that resonated with many Miamians. After the failed Brothers to the Rescue mission when a group of Cuban exile pilots were shot down and killed by the Cuban military over international waters, Albright wore her "blue bird" pin with its head pointing down in mourning in a show of solidarity and support.
Watch Albright discuss how this all got started:
"Read My Pins" runs tomorrow until Saturday, April 30 to the Freedom Tower (600 Biscayne Blvd., Miami). Exhibition hours are Tuesday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Contact MDC's Art Gallery System at 305-237-7700 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.