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Pattern and Purpose: Works from the Ann McPhail Collection

May 29, 2019–February 6, 2022

The patterns that appear in these works of art are not merely decorative additions but function as vehicles of expression. Their embedded messages served a range of purposes, including to display wealth, express individual and group identity, aid in rituals, or protect from physical and spiritual danger. Explore selections from North Africa to Asia that highlight the rich textile and jewelry traditions of village and tribal communities in these regions.

About Ann McPhail

The art on display in this gallery is from a diverse collection formed by Ann Smallidge McPhail (1928–2016) and donated to the museum by her and her husband, trustee emeritus Donald McPhail. The museum’s longest-serving guide, Ann traveled extensively across Asia and North Africa, often wearing the ornaments and clothing she collected.

Main Building


This installation has been made possible by Donald W. McPhail, in memory of Ann McPhail.


Leslie Essoglou, Department Manager, South Asian Art; and Darielle Mason, The Stella Kramrisch Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art

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