Around the World in 80 Hats at Upcountry History MuseumMarch 22, 2023
Though not in a hot air balloon with Phileas Fogg, visitors will have an opportunity to go around the world on an 80 hat and headdress journey as the Upcountry History Museum – Greenville County, a Smithsonian Affiliate, presents “The Global Language of Headwear: Cultural Identity, Rites of Passage, and Spirituality,” opening Saturday, March 25, 2023, and on display through Sunday, June 4, 2023.
In its only Southeastern stop, this national traveling exhibition features more than 80 hats and headdresses from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America that showcase the mutual themes of Cultural Identity; Power, Prestige, and Status; Ceremonies and Celebrations; Spiritual Beliefs; and Protection, all amid a range of cultural traditions. With a few exceptions, the pieces are from the mid- to late-20th century with many still worn today in parts of the world for revelry, ritual, and the rhythms of everyday life.
As illustrated in the Jules Verne classic novel and movie versions of “Around the World in Eighty Days,” such a global journey highlights the stunning diversity of cultures, customs, and creativity. In addition to seeing the actual headwear, visitors will also be able to explore the relationship each has in its country, ceremony, and celebration. These extraordinary pieces accentuate the intricacy, ingenuity, and skill required to make such head coverings which are also exquisite works of art and expressions of originality.
While beliefs and rituals vary among cultures, “The Global Language of Headwear,” organized by International Arts and Artists, Washington, DC, colorfully demonstrates how each distinct society can be viewed through a similar lens of rites of passage, heritage, and identity which can ultimately unite an international community. For example, two headdresses from vastly different parts of the world and featured in this exhibition – the Plains Indian feathered war bonnet and Congolese Misango MaPende crown – represent a position of leadership and status and can be worn only by those who have earned the right to wear them.
The Upcountry History Museum is located at 540 Buncombe St., in Greenville, S.C. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Sunday from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. For more information, call 864-467-3100 or visit www.upcountryhistory.org.