In celebration of its 25-year anniversary milestone, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum continues its free Celebrating 25 Years virtual lecture series with a new talk, “Shell Dressed: Seashells in Fashion and Jewelry”, at 5pm on September 28th, 2021, led by Jean M. Burks, Curator Emerita, Shelburne Museum, and Kory Rogers, Francie and John Downing Senior Curator of American Art, Shelburne Museum.


Following their successful June lecture about shells in art, curators Jean Burks and Kory Rogers return with a new presentation to explore how mollusks are incorporated and interpreted in items of personal adornment throughout history. From Cleopatra to Alexander McQueen, classic cameos to contemporary creations, shells have been adored by celebrities, commoners and cultures around the world. Whether used as a dye for ancient royal garments or embroidered to a contemporary evening gown, threaded on string or set in precious metals, seashells have played an important and varied role in the design and production of fashion and fashion accessories for thousands of years.


About the speakers: Kory Rogers is the Francie and John Downing Senior Curator of American Art at Shelburne Museum, in Shelburne, Vermont, where he oversees more than 100,000 works of art and design ranging from the 18th century to the present day. Kory’s professional interests include: the American circus, wildfowl decoys, English ceramics, 19th-century horse-drawn vehicles, 20th-century and contemporary furniture design, and of course seashells. Kory earned his M.A. in the history of American decorative arts from the joint program between Smithsonian Associates, Parson School of Design and New School University in 2003.

Jean M. Burks is Curator Emerita of Shelburne Museum, where, for 20 years, she was responsible for 18th-20th-century American and European decorative arts. Prior to this, she held Curatorial positions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Winterthur Museum, the National Museum of Play, and Canterbury Shaker Village. Jean received her M.A. in the history of decorative arts from the Smithsonian Institution/Parsons School of Design in New York City. After retiring to Sanibel, Jean spends her time shelling as well as volunteering on the beaches as a Shell Ambassador and in the Collections Department of the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.


Visit to register or watch recordings of previous lectures. The series will conclude on October 20th with “Spooky Mollusks and Other Evils of the Deep: A Halloween Special”, led by Dr. José H. Leal, Science Director and Curator at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.


About the Museum: The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is a Natural History Museum, and the only museum in the United States devoted solely to shells and mollusks. Its mission is to use exceptional collections, aquariums, programs, experiences, and science to be the nation’s leading museum in the conservation, preservation, interpretation, and celebration of shells, the mollusks that create them, and their ecosystems. Permanent exhibitions on view include the Great Hall of Shells which displays highlights of the Museum’s collection of some 500,000 shells, as well as the Beyond Shells living gallery of aquariums and over 50 species of marine life. For more information on the Museum, please visit or call (239) 395-2233.