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NECKLACE, by Art Smith, of silver, turquoise, rhodochrosite, chrysoprase, and amethyst (or garnet); 43.8 x 26 x 1.9 centimeters, circa 1958. The Daphne Farago Collection.
Yvonne Markowitz

A Rare Gem at the MFA




Yvonne is a jewel herself, and becoming curator has given her her setting—like you’d set a stone in a ring. It really brought out her extraordinary qualities.”
                —Malcom Rogers

In 1987, Yvonne Markowitz was working toward a doctorate in Egyptology at Brandeis University, in Waltham, Massachusetts. She took a course in Egyptian Archaeology at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, taught by Peter Lacovara, then assistant curator of Egyptian, Nubian and Near Eastern Art. She never left.

Markowitz became the Rita J. and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry in 2006, the first dedicated curator of jewelry in a United States fine arts museum. The new jewelry gallery opened in July 2011. Of the eleven thousand pieces of jewelry in its collection, she has looked at each one; and has cataloged, measured and researched thousands; published her findings in scholarly journals, books and exhibition catalogs; and illustrated hundreds of others, from the ancient Nubian to American studio jewelry of the past few decades.

A small woman with curly light-brown hair and hazel eyes, she often dresses simply in grays and blacks, accented by red shoes, and one unusual piece of jewelry––often one that she made herself. Both scientist and artist, she loves getting to the bottom of things, like an archaeologist, sifting for treasure, analyzing the materials. For her, part of the fun has been learning how things are made, and so she learned to make jewelry, a continuation of her lifelong study of studio art. She uses precious and semiprecious gems, vintage elements, unusual materials, and precious metals to create pieces that reflect many facets of her life.






Ellen Howards
has been an art writer and editor for eighteen years. She is the former editor-in-chief of Art New England magazine, and teaches at Emerson College. While researching her profile of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston curator Yvonne Markowitz, she was struck with the recurring thought: “I am never leaving this museum.” After hours and hours haunting the place, she was welcomed by the mummies themselves as one of their own.



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