Jewels of the Nile: Ancient Egyptian Treasures from the Worcester Art Museum

June 18, 2022–January 8, 2023

Upper Frances L. Hiatt Gallery (215)

The magnificence of ancient Egypt comes to brilliant life through jewelry—the most precious and personal of human possessions—in this expansive exhibition at WAM. Timed to open 100 years after the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb, Jewels of the Nile: Ancient Egyptian Treasures from the Worcester Art Museum puts the Museum’s collection of early Egyptian jewelry on view for the first time in a century. Remarkable for both its breadth and quality, this collection was assembled by Kingsmill Marrs (d. 1912) and Laura Norcross Marrs (1845 – 1926) and given to WAM by Mrs. Marrs.

Jewels of the Nile showcases 300 objects, ranging from tiny beads and gems to large sculptures from the Museum’s other Egyptian holdings. Through the singular story of Kingsmill and Laura Marrs and their friendship with British archaeologist Howard Carter, the exhibition also delves into the materials and techniques used in the creation of personal adornments, the evolution of style over the centuries, and the early twentieth-century phenomenon of Egyptomania sparked by archaeological exploration in the region. Interactive components and interpretive programs will allow visitors of all ages to explore and experience themselves this fascinating aspect of ancient Egyptian culture.

Laura Marrs was the daughter of Boston mayor Otis Norcross (1811-1882) and wife of amateur photographer Kingsmill Marrs (d. 1912). During a trip to Egypt in 1908, the Marrs met archaeologist Howard Carter (1874-1939), who would later discover Tutankhamun’s tomb. The Marrs struck up a friendship with Carter, and they wrote letters and visited one another in Florence, Italy, and in Luxor, Egypt. Carter also advised them on purchasing antiquities—particularly jewelry, which was legal at that time. With his knowing eye and the Marrses’ acumen, together they assembled a truly outstanding collection.

The exhibition is curated by Peter Lacovara, Ph.D., Director of The Ancient Egyptian Archaeology and Heritage Fund; and Yvonne Markowitz, Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator Emerita of Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

This exhibition is made possible through the generous support from Dr. Sohail Masood, his wife Mona Masood, and their children Laila Masood and Omar Masood.

Additional generous funding is provided by the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation, Inc., Fletcher Foundation, and Sandy Hubbard and Thomas J. Logan.

Interactive elements in the exhibition are supported in part by the Mass Cultural Council’s Innovation Fund. Related programming is supported by the Schwartz Charitable Foundation.

Sponsored by: Kaplan Construction, Patrick Motors and Webster Five.

Kaplan Construction logo
Webster Five logo

Media Partners: The Boston Globe and WGBH

The Boston Globe logo

Additional support from: Mass Cultural Council’s Innovation Fund

Mass Cultural Council logo

Related programs

Public Docent-led Exhibition Tours

Every weekend – check our calendar for the latest schedule
Space is limited – please register at the front desk as you enter the Museum
Free with Museum admission
Meet in Lancaster Lobby

Learn how this collection of works came to the Worcester Art Museum as you take a closer look at the exhibition.

Art Cart: Hieroglyphic Cartouches

Please check our calendar for the latest schedule
Free with Museum admission
2nd Floor Salisbury Hall

Learn to write like an Egyptian! Write your name the way a pharaoh or a god would have theirs displayed, inside a protective cartouche.

Selected images