Exquisite eggs on display at HMNS

April 2, 2010 4:16:22 PM PDT
Just in time for Easter, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is displaying a collection of Faberge art. This takes Easter eggs to a whole new level. They are intricate and exquisite, the designs of Carl Faberge, the legendary jeweler who created the Imperial Easter Eggs for the Russian royal family.

"The winters are very harsh in Russia," said Houston Museum of Natural Science President Joel Bartsch. "So springtime was something that was a huge event in Russian society. Combined with Easter, Easter in the Russian orthodox church is the biggest celebration of the year by far."

So only the most beautiful, valuable objects would do.

"Precious materials, superb craftsmanship, handmade one-of-a-kind pieces were Faberge's specialty, and he delivered over the top," said Bartsch.

There's a whole golden tree of dazzling egg charms, and one of the most over-the-top is the famed Nobel ice egg.

"It's done in enamel, in platinum, and it looks like it's covered in ice crystals," said Bartsch.

They're so copied, there's a clever name for all the fakes -- "Faux-berge." The real things are extremely rare, and when they occasional sell at art auctions, they fetch millions.

Faberge didn't just make eggs. There are personal gifts to the tsar and his family, a magnificently ornate fire-screen picture frame, and a spectacular tiara of diamonds.

Owned by one private individual, the McFerrin Collection on display is one of the best in the world. When he heard about the Nobel ice egg...

"I said, 'Of course. That's a hugely important egg. We'd love to have this collection on display, and by the way, where is this collection from?' I'm expecting a far-off country somewhere, they said it's right here in Houston," said Bartsch.

That's right. A person from the Houston area owns this incredible collection. You can check it out at the Houston Museum of Natural Science until July 25.


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