44 Celebrity Eyes In A Museum Storeroom: Artifacts Selected by 22 Celebrities

What do Kevin Bacon, Mary McFadden, Robert Ballard, Georges Perrier, Peter Lynch and Yo-Yo Ma all have in common? They've all been to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology recently, and they've all lent their "eyes"--an d their unique sensibilities--to select artifacts from storage for the Museum's newest exhibition, 44 Celebrity Eyes In A Museum Storeroom, opening Sunday, April 16.

44 Celebrity Eyes was developed to coincide with the Museum's formal April 14 groundbreaking for the Mainwaring Wing. The special exhibition, which showcases the breadth and depth of the Museum's collections, features a selection of 65 artifacts chosen by 22 international "celebrities" from many walks of life. Text panels and behind-the-scene photographs provide additional information about the celebrities and their "picks." The exhibition runs through December 30, 2000.

"We're excited about this special year 2000 exhibition, which gives us a chance to 'strut our stuff' in a fun and engaging way, even as we begin construction on the collections storage and study wing which will allow us to preserve such objects for future generations," noted Dr. Jeremy A. Sabloff, the Williams Director. "What better way for an archaeology and anthropology museum to usher in a new millennium--the third millennium CE (common era), in archaeological parlance?"

The following celebrities lent their "eyes" and selected artifacts for 44 Celebrity Eyes: actor Kevin Bacon and his father, urban planner Edmund Bacon, Hon'84; oceanographer and Titanic discoverer Robert Ballard; Big Bird of Sesame Street fame; Philadelphia Museum of Art Director Anne d'Harnoncourt; FBI Special Agent Robert Wittman (assigned to cultural heritage and art thefts); Philadelphia patriot/writer/scientist 'Benjamin Franklin' (a.k.a. historical actor Ralph Archbold); Phillies center fielder Doug Glanville, EAS'93; composer Philip Glass; Dr. Zahi Hawass, director general of the Giza Plateau, G'83, Gr'87; investor Peter Lynch, WG'68; cellist Yo-Yo Ma; fashion designer Mary McFadden; restauranteur/chef Georges Perrier; Broadway producer/director Hal Prince, C'48; former Philadelphia Mayor and General Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Ed Rendell, C'65; 102nd Archbishop of Canterbury Robert A.K. Runcie; Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand; playwright Tom Stoppard; Denise Scott-Brown, GCP '60, GAR '65, Hon '94 and Robert Venturi, Hon '80, architects; and the late jazz musician Grover Washington, Jr.

To make their selections for the exhibition, celebrity guests visited crowded Museum storerooms with materials from ancient Mesopotamia, Asia, Polynesia, Africa, the Americas, ancient Egypt, and the ancient Mediterranean world. The result is an exhibition of extraordinarily diverse "treasures," from an early 20th century Chinese opera robe selected by Hal Prince, to a Gilbert Islands coconut fiber corselet (collected in 1889 and once owned by Robert Louis Stevenson), admired by Mary McFadden, to 16th century Inca beer cups favored by Georges Perrier, and even a 3,200 year old sarcophagus lid fragment, from the site of Beth Shean, Israel, chosen by Philip Glass.

44 Celebrity Eyes In A Museum Storeroom is not a completely new idea for a University Museum exhibition. In 1952, the Museum invited seven men, all active in the art and entertainment fields of modern art, to visit Museum storerooms and select pieces that appealed to their tastes. Rene d'Harnoncourt, director, Museum of Modern Art, New York (and father of Anne d'Harnoncourt, 44 Eyes selector); Lincoln Kirstein, director, New York City Ballet; Louis E. Stern, collector; Jacques Lipchitz, sculptor; Franklin C. Watkins, painter; Charles Addams of The New Yorker; and Norman Bel Geddes, state and industrial designer, all took the challenge. Their selections, along with their own brief commentaries, were shared in a Museum Bulletin publication, and the exhibition was presented to the public in an actual storeroom.

Visit the Museum at www.upenn.edu/museum/ or call (215) 898-4000 for info.




Clockwise from upper right: Ben Franklin, Ed Rendell, Doug Glanville, Yo-Yo Ma, Mary McFadden, Georges Perrier, Peter Lynch, Hal Prince, and Kevin Bacon with artifacts they selected from the Museum's vast storerooms for the upcoming exhibition developed in honor of the Museum's groundbreaking for the Mainwaring Wing, a state-of-the-art collections storage and study facility. The exhibit opens Sunday, April 16.


Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 27, April 4, 2000