A one-of-a-kind exhibition of priceless antique and modern garnets from Europe is only making one stop in America — and that’s in Iowa. The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids is hosting the collection of 370 objects that feature the fiery red gemstones. Gail Naughton, president and C-E-O of the museum, says some of the items are very recent while others date to the 1600s.Naughton says many pieces are garnet-decorated jewelry but others are household items like eyeglasses, mirrors or picture frames. There are also religious items, like the three-foot tall monstrance which was discovered in the vaults of Saint Nicholas Church in Prague. The monstrance is a “spectacular piece” that was handcrafted in 1722 for use in Roman Catholic services. The gold vessel is encrusted with 386 garnets, 19 diamonds, and 135 rock crystals. Naughton says the appearance in Cedar Rapids is its first public display since 1895. Other objects in the exhibit include period paintings, drawings, sculptures and antique clothing — all from the National Museum of the Czech Republic in Prague. She says people of Czech and Slovak heritage from across the US are coming to see the collection. Naughton says garnets are a huge part of the cultural heritage for people of Czech and Slovak descent, with a very emotional connection to the homeland — though she says everyone can appreciate their beauty. The exhibit will be in Cedar Rapids through September 25th, then it heads back to Prague. For more information, call (319) 362-8500 or visit “www.ncsml.org”.
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