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Special Exhibits and Programs

2024 SPECIAL EXHIBIT:

The Global Language of Headwear: Cultural Identity, Rites of Passage, and Spirituality

July 5 - September 27, 2024 at the Havilah Beardsley House

Ruthmere is hosting a traveling exhibit this summer from International Arts & Artists!

The Global Language of Headwear: Cultural Identity, Rites of Passage, and Spirituality presents 89 hats and headdresses carefully selected from a private collection of more than 1300 extraordinary pieces of international headwear. 


This exhibition features hats from 42 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America, and is a tribute to the stunning diversity of the world’s cultures. With a few exceptions, the pieces are from the mid-to-late 20th century, and many are still worn today in parts of the world for revelry, ritual, and the rhythms of everyday life. More than utilitarian objects of material culture, each hat is a unique work of art—not merely because of the skill required to make it, but also as a singular expression of creativity and cultural meaning. 

The profusion of shapes, styles, and materials, as well as the ingenious use of embellishments to decorate the hats, are limited only by imagination. The Global Language of Headwear is organized into five thematic sections: Cultural Identity; Power; Prestige and Status; Ceremonies and Celebrations; Spiritual Beliefs; and Protection. Hats and headdresses communicate timeless ideas—not only of beauty, but also of what it means to be human.

Naga Helmet, India, mid-20th century, cane, dyed goat hair, boar tusks

©2012 Courtesy of Hat Horizons, Photograph by Matthew Hillman


Pende Chief’s Hat (Misango MaPende), Pende Tribe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, mid-20th century, fiber, beads

©2012 Courtesy of Hat Horizons, Photograph by Matthew Hillman


Thunderbolt Crown, Tibet, early 20th century, metal

 ©2012 Courtesy of Hat Horizons, Photograph by Matthew Hillman


International Arts & Artists in Washington, DC, is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally, through exhibitions, programs and services to artists, arts institutions and the public. Visit ArtsandArtists.org.


The Global Language of Headwear: Cultural Identity, Rites of Passage, and Spirituality was jointly organized by Stacey W. Miller and International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.


Sponsored in part by Steve and Julie Bachman.

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Elkhart, IN 46514

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