Hats Off!

Figge Art Museum
225 W. Second Street, Davenport, IA

Hats have the power to conceal identity as well as to declare a profession, passion, or social position. In this exhibition, fantastical feather-like forms adorn the headdress of an ancient Mayan warrior and tickle the temples of circus performers and Parisian socialites alike. Broad brims both accentuate the work-weathered features of a sharecropper and protect the porcelain complexion of an artist’s muse. While a glistening black top hat can declare an artist a gentleman, the crumpled crown of a threadbare fedora can suggest a reversal of fortune. Able to mark a momentous occasion or simply elevate an everyday ensemble, hats of all shapes and sizes have graced the heads of people on every continent in every period of human history. From the red woolen cap of a legendary lumberjack to the black lace mantilla of a mysterious Spanish dancer, this exhibition explores the many meanings and materialities of head coverings.

This exhibition was curated by Vero Rose Smith and organized by Legacies for Iowa: A University of Iowa Museum of Art Collections-Sharing Project, supported by the Matthew Bucksbaum Family.

UIMA LEGACIES sm web tansparent


Beaded barrister-style crown

Nigeria: Yoruba peoples

Beaded barrister-style crown


Textile and beads, 15 x 9 1/4 x 9 1/4 in.
General Education Fund, 2009.3