Hat’s Off! at the Italian Jewish Museum
A Purim Exhibition on Hats, Masks and Megilloth
February 14-April 8, 2018
Hats can be both unassuming and quite striking. They can make one disappear, or cause one to be the center of attention. What makes this one article of clothing so significant?
Throughout history, the hat has been one of the status symbols of society. People wore hats and head coverings in order to indicate their economic status, profession, and religion, among other things. In the theater, hats were used as signposts to distinguish and differentiate between characters on stage. For the holiday of Purim, the U. Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art is investigating the hat and its representations in different eras using objects from the collection, such as illuminated Megillot, prints, crowns, Kippas, and, of course, hats themselves.
Hats are the crowning element of a costume that signify what the wearer is intending to represent. They are indicators of each other’s behaviors and philosophies. On Purim, when everything is turned on its head, hats take on an element of levity and silliness, helping us express ourselves even when we are dressed as someone else. They are the first clue that not everything is as it seems.
This exhibition showcases our associations with hats, how we understand them, and what they have come to represent with regards to royalty, domestic life, and art.