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Madeleine Albright's pin collection comes to Smithsonian

Madeleine Albright wears her bee pin during a meeting with Yasser Arafat in Gaza City, Sept. 3, 1999. (AP Photo by/Hussein Hussein, Pool)

What has Madeleine Albright been wearing while her famous pin collection is touring the country? "Pity pins -- because people feel sorry for me," said the former secretary of state.

Albright's signature accessory -- some precious gems, most costume pieces -- were collected together last year for her book, "Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box," and a two-year traveling show. The exhibit of 200 pins opens Friday at the Smithsonian Castle; Albright previewed it for reporters Tuesday.

With her jewelry on the road, friends and fans have given her all sorts of replacements. "I've signed books for people wearing pins and I'd say, 'Gee, that's a really nice pin.' Then they take it off and give it to me, so I don't say that anymore."

What happens to the collection when the tour ends? The 73-year-old, wearing a "V" for Victory and two World War II vintage pins, said she's just starting to think about the question: "The only person who's connected the dots on this is my youngest granddaughter, who said, 'Who's going to get all this stuff?' I'm trying to figure out who really would like it and how this would all work."

By The Reliable Source  |  June 15, 2010; 12:57 PM ET
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