While some people collect Hermès purses, a fifth-generation descendent of the French luxury empire turned to North Africa in search of historic jewelry and photographs. Xavier Guerrand-Hermès spent over 30 years amassing treasures from the late 19th to early 20th century, many of which can now be seen at “Desert Jewels: North African Jewelry and Photography from the Xavier Guerrand-Hermès Collection.” The exhibition, which opens Oct. 5, boasts an embarrassment of riches — to the tune of 94 pieces of jewelry and 28 photographs from Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia — which have traveled across the country, most notably at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Wedding necklaces, hair ornaments, bracelets, and other baubles made of silver, coral, amber, coins, and semi-precious stones are displayed alongside the most important photographers of the day, including George Washington Wilson and Pascal Sabah. The exhibition marks the beginning of a new “Collectors Series” at the Museum of the African Diaspora, and does so with intention: For too long the West has focused on West Africa; now, the people and culture of North Africa are getting some much deserved attention.
Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: Oct. 5. Continues through Jan. 23, 2012