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Lunchtime with a Curator: Decorative Arts Design Series

Daytime Course

Monday, August 16, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0130
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$20 - Member
$25 - Non-Member
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Clockwise: "Faïence" by Lucien Lelong, 1946 (Maryhill Museum of Art); Donna Limerick wears a replica of her mother Mae Reeves' hat designs (Photo: Sharon Farmer); Silk scarves by Hermès (Photo: Samantha Viksnins)

Save when you purchase the Lunchtime with a Curator summer series!

Join curator Elizabeth Lay, a regular lecturer on the topics of fashion, textiles, and American furniture, for an image-rich lunchtime lecture series focusing on decorative arts and design topics.

Session Information

The “Showstopper” Hats of Mae’s Millinery Shop

One of the many extraordinary exhibits in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is Mae’s Millinery Shop. Lifted nearly complete from its original home in Philadelphia, it is now recognized as a historical treasure. Mrs. Reeves was known for her stunning “showstopper” hats that were popular with women of all backgrounds, from schoolteachers to socialites like Mrs. du Pont, and performance stars Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne. For 56 years, it was the place to discover your very best hat and a place for the community to gather. As a member of the NAACP, Mae Reeves’ storefront served as a location for important political conversations of the day as well as a lolling place.

Mae’s daughter, Donna Limerick, joins Lay in a discussion of her mother’s entrepreneurial spirit, her memories of working in the shop dressed in a black dress, pearls, and heels while she waited on customers, and shares cherished family photographs. She also talks about her experience working with the curators at NMAAHC to create the exhibition dedicated to her mother and her shop. And, of course, there will be lots of “showstopper” hat images to view and enjoy.

Additional Sessions

Patron Information

  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
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  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from CustomerService@SmithsonianAssociates.org.
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.