June 11, 2018
[Digital images available upon request]

Williamstown, Massachusetts—Exhibition curator Kathleen Morris presents the opening lecture for the Clark Art Institute’s special exhibition, The Art of Iron: Objects from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen, Normandy, on Sunday, June 24 at 3 pm. The lecture, free and open to the public, will be held in the Clark’s auditorium, located in the Manton Research Center.

Morris discusses the history of the collection and its dramatic home in Rouen; how the thirty-six objects in the show were chosen from a collection numbering more than 16,000; the history and techniques of the diverse works in the exhibition; and the process of arriving at the innovative design of the display itself.

The Musée Le Secq des Tournelles features one of the world's most important collections of historic ironwork, collected in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by Henri Le Secq Destournelles and his son (who changed the spelling of the last name to Des Tournelles). The elder Le Secq began collecting iron in a period when Paris and other cities were being modernized and old buildings pulled down or remodeled, leading to the discarding of iron grilles, gates, and other architectural elements. At the same time, hand-worked iron was being replaced by machine manufacturing for many common household implements. The Le Secqs collected a wide variety of iron objects, including grilles, signs, kitchenware, locks and keys, laundry and sewing implements, surgical tools, jewelry, and more. In 1921 the collection, which the younger Le Secq had donated to the city of Rouen, opened in a repurposed Gothic church, where it continues to delight visitors to this day.

“A long-standing collegial relationship between the Clark and the Museums of Rouen made the organization of this exhibition easy,” said Morris, who is the Clark’s Sylvia and Leonard Marx Director of Collections and Exhibitions, as well as curator of decorative arts. “While the final checklist counts just three dozen objects, they represent a range of types and sizes, from the intimate hand-held candleholder to a monumental dragon bracket.”

Morris explained that the idea of presenting the show was sparked by the opportunity provided in the Clark’s Michael Conforti Pavilion, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando. It is a space distinguished by its walls of glass that flood the interior with light and provide spectacular views across the Clark’s reflecting pools, pasture, and woodlands. “Wrought iron is not susceptible to light, as is most art, so we were able to design the show in a way that celebrates Ando’s design,” she said. “The exhibition provides a visual feast, both in the extraordinary craftsmanship of the objects themselves and in the stunning ways in which they are displayed.”

The Art of Iron is on view June 9–September 16, 2018. The exhibition is co-organized by the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, and the Réunion des Musées Métropolitains, Rouen, Normandy. Generous contributors to the exhibition include Sylvia and Leonard Marx and the Selz Foundation, with additional support from Richard and Carol Seltzer.


The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, consisting of more than 270,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.

The Clark, which has a three-star rating in the Michelin Green Guide, is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. Free admission is available through several programs, including First Sundays Free; a local library pass program; EBT Card to Culture; Bank of America Museums on Us; and Blue Star Museums. For more information on these programs and more, visit or call 413 458 2303.
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