Curator: Courtney Harris, Curatorial Research Fellow, Art of Europe

Number of objects: Approximately 70

Tiny is trendy: with tiny houses and minimalist movements encouraging people to live in smaller spaces with fewer belongings, small objects are attracting new attention. The MFA’s encyclopedic collection offers rich holdings in small, precious objects, and the exhibition highlights miniature works of art across a range of media, including paintings, precious metals and gems, ceramics, and drawings, among others. Often overlooked, smaller works of art can be masterpieces in their own right. Through this global collection of objects from antiquity to the 20th century, the exhibition introduces visitors to a wide variety of techniques, styles, and cultures.

"Tiny Treasures" explores the idea of miniaturization in art and how artists and artisans play with our perception of size and scale. Themes of the exhibition include personal adornment and wearable fashions, symbols of style and social prestige, commemorative and powerful keepsakes, religious and powerful objects, and surprisingly small masterpieces of painting. The carefully selected objects allow visitors to learn about craftsmanship and virtuosity on a small scale, looking at the incredible amount of detail and skill needed to execute small masterpieces—often more demanding than their larger counterparts. The portable nature of small objects allowed owners and wearers to carry them with them, a constant sign of religious devotion, style, or wealth.

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Exhibition Highlights