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Mint to celebrate its internationally significant ceramics collection

January 05, 2016

Portals to the Past: British Ceramics 1675-1825 to open January 16, 2016 at Mint Museum Randolph

The Mint Museum, long regarded as holding one of the country’s most comprehensive collections of eighteenth-century British ceramics, is about to celebrate the first major reinstallation of that collection in nearly four decades with the opening of Portals to the Past: British Ceramics 1675-1825 at Mint Museum Randolph on January 16, 2016. The ongoing exhibition will stay on view for approximately two years, with additional objects rotating in over time. Members of the media are invited to preview the exhibition with a special tour at 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 14 at Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road.

“The Mint Museum’s collection of eighteenth-century British ceramics is one of its greatest strengths,” said Brian Gallagher, the Mint’s curator of decorative arts. “This exhibition presents the collection in a way that really highlights its breadth and, we hope, helps to make our visitors more aware of these great objects. Not only is the Mint’s collection noteworthy for its encyclopedic representation of British ceramics, but also because it contains a lot of very rare and even singular works of art.”

Portals to the Past is accompanied by a 270-page new scholarly publication, British Ceramics 1675-1825: The Mint Museum, published by the museum in collaboration with D. Giles Limited, London. It is available in the Mint Museum Shops for $79.95 hardcover and $54.95 softcover.

Both the exhibition and catalogue are made possibly by the Delhom Service League, ceramics affiliate of The Mint Museum. Additional exhibition support was generously provided by Moore & Van Allen.

As the Portals exhibition demonstrates, historical objects can reveal much about the people who once owned them and the culture in which they were produced: the popular foods and beverages of the day and how they were served; the prevailing styles of the period; even which public figures were especially admired. These and other aspects of life in eighteenth-century England are explored in this reinterpretation of the Mint’s collection of British pottery and porcelain, which presents more than 225 highlights, including many objects that have never before been on view, as well as contemporaneous works of art from the Mint’s holdings in British paintings, fashion, silver, and works on paper.

Both the catalogue and the installation honor the 50th anniversary of the museum’s purchase of the Delhom Collection of British and European ceramics, and the 40th anniversary of the incorporation of the Delhom Service League. “Ms. M. Mellanay Delhom, who assembled the majority of this collection and was fierce about her collection being kept intact, would be so proud of seeing it in its new location along with the many other historic pieces that have been in storage because of the lack of exhibition space,” said Bernie Bowen, president of the Delhom Service League.

Coinciding with Portals, the museum will also unveil Contemporary British Ceramics: The Grainer Collection at Mint Museum Randolph. This survey of contemporary British studio ceramics also goes on view January 16 and will remain as an ongoing installation. Focused on the collection of Diane and Marc Grainer, active members of the Mint affiliate the Founders’ Circle Ltd., it contains functional and sculptural objects made between the 1980s and today, by artists either born or residing in Great Britain. Represented are such “contemporary classics” as Gordon Baldwin and Rupert Spira along with cutting-edge ceramicists such as Julian Stair and Kate Malone.

The scholarly catalogue’s publication will be celebrated with an author signing at the Mint Museum UPTOWN Shop (500 South Tryon Street, Levine Center for the Arts) at 5 p.m. on December 16. Portals to the Past will also be accompanied by public tours and other programming; see mintmuseum.org/happenings for details on upcoming events.

Members of the media may RSVP to the January media preview by contacting leigh.dyer@mintmuseum.org. High resolution images are available upon request.

Above image: William Littler (British, 1724–1784). Sweetmeat Stand, circa 1765–1770, earthenware, lead glaze. West Pans, East Lothian, Scotland. Gift of the Mint Museum Auxiliary. 1971.3.16. Collection of The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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