“Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection”

Wearing brooches is the common theme everyday of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She made wearing pins her sticking point after the Iraqi government called her an “unparalleled serpent.” Albright boldly responded by wearing a golden serpent pen at her next meeting with the Iraqis. “I found that jewelry had become part of my diplomatic arsenal,” reveals Albright.

Her collection has grown to include hundreds of pins including both costume and antique pieces. From bugs to flowers and doves to flags, each piece delivers a deliberate message. While in Denver to introduce her 200 piece personal collection on display at the Denver Art Museum, Albright wore a cowboy boot brooch to represent her home state and where she bought her first pair of boots in high school.
Albright says the pressure to wear pins can be overwhelming. “We’ve basically created a problem. When I exercise it’s not a good time to wear pins.” But when she is wearing them you can always tell her mood. She discovered the power of jewelry to convey a foreign policy message. They express high hopes, determination, impatience and warm feelings. Simply, her pins have a purpose. 

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” Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection” is at the Denver
Art Museum through June 17.
Public tours are available weekdays at two and weekends at 3.
Visit to purchase tickets


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  1. #1 by Sheila T Illustrated on April 14, 2012 - 9:14 pm

    Excellent post! And thanks for including the photos of the pins! Quite unique.

    • #2 by catchcarri on April 15, 2012 - 9:25 am

      Thanks so much for the comment Sheila! She is the queen of symbolism!

  2. #3 by wanderfool on April 16, 2012 - 12:36 am

    Unique weapon of diplomacy. Thanks for this post!

  3. #4 by Tricia's Journals on April 22, 2012 - 9:20 am

    Great post, I never thought of her pins as her arsenal! 🙂

  4. #5 by ksbrigid on April 23, 2012 - 1:15 pm

    I saw this exhibit in my city four months ago. What an inspiring woman Albright is.

  5. #6 by colonialist on April 23, 2012 - 2:59 pm

    As a last resort, I suppose the pins would come in jolly handy to stick into somebody who wasn’t getting the point. 🙂
    My mother grew up in the age of hatpins, and would carry one as a weapon when in an area she thought might be dodgy.

  6. #7 by smartyharley on April 25, 2012 - 12:59 am

    Thanks a ton for reading my blog and liking my post. I love this short little snippet about Albright’s pins. In the Smithsonian Museum of American History, there was a small display on old plastic toy doohickies (the name of the plastic escapes me, but I believe it was flammable). I loved it and wish they had expanded on it…

  7. #8 by jennysserendipity on April 27, 2012 - 1:15 am

    She is one of my idols…Excellent post..thanks for sharing
    All the best, Jenny

  8. #9 by natureintheburbs on April 27, 2012 - 6:05 am

    Very interesting.

  9. #10 by weedimageoftheday on April 27, 2012 - 8:50 am

    This is a really interesting piece. I like how Madeleine Albright admitted that by starting to wear the pins, she had created a bit of a problem, and a challenge! I also love how she recognized the use of jewelry as a tool for diplomacy. Thank you for visiting my blog!

  10. #11 by My Mission: Tastes of SF on May 1, 2012 - 2:10 pm

    Thanks for visiting my blog. This is an interesting piece…something to think abt is that the word “pin” is changing and now is a verb, thanks to Pinterest!

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