Architectural drawing by Atkin, Olshin, Lawson-Bell and Associates Architects shows the Mainwaring Wing's facade facing the Museum's courtyard, projecting out toward South Street.

 University of Pennsylvania Museum's Groundbreaking for the Mainwaring Wing for Collections Storage and Study

For University of Pennsylvania Museum archaeologists, breaking ground usually means the start of a new excavation begun with high hopes and the sweet anticipation of discovery--often far, far from home. On Friday, April 14, at 10 a.m., breaking ground will take on a whole new meaning, as the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology hosts a ceremonial groundbreaking for its new, state-of-the-art Mainwaring Wing for collections storage and study, right in the Museum's own front yard--the Sharpe Circle off of South Street just east of 33rd and Spruce Streets, where the four-story, 35,000 square foot building wing will be built.

The event, free and open to the public, celebrates a critical Museum fundraising goal achieved--$17 million--as it looks to the future with a new facility aimed to protect priceless artifacts and improve scholarly collections access. The University community, Museum volunteers and staff, Philadelphia school children, donors, cultural community members and the general public are all invited to share in the milestone event. The Women's Sekere Ensemble--a local group that performs frequently at Museum events--offers music to inspire, and refreshments will be served following the formal presentation.

Project construction for the Mainwaring Wing will begin in May 2000, and construction is expected to be completed in 18 months. The wing is named in honor of Trustee Emeritus and former Museum Board of Overseers Chairman A. Bruce Mainwaring, C '47, and his wife, Margaret Redfield Mainwaring, 'Ed '47, H '85, Trustee Emeritus and Former Vice Chair of the Trustees. Both are strong Museum advocates and supporters.

President Judith Rodin is co-host of the groundbreaking event with Dr. Jeremy Sabloff, the Museum's Williams Director. Hailing the new wing as an important component in the University's Agenda for Excellence, Dr. Rodin noted, "With the Mainwaring Wing providing much needed collections storage and study space, the Museum will continue its proud tradition of leadership into the 21st century, inspiring future generations of scholars."

"As we break ground for the new Mainwaring Wing, we act upon our obligation to preserve our priceless collections for today and for future generations," noted Dr. Sabloff. "It is an obligation to the general public, for whom the collections can offer inspiration and greater understanding of our shared human experience; to researchers and other scholars, who look to our collections to illuminate their understanding of culture and cultures; and to people of diverse cultures, ancient and contemporary, that we seek to learn more about."

Dr. Rodin and Dr. Sabloff will speak at the groundbreaking. They will be joined by A. Bruce and Margaret R. Mainwaring; Provost Robert Barchi; Mr. James Riepe, Chairman, Board of Trustees; Mr. John Hover, Chairman of the Museum's Board of Overseers; and Virginia Ebert, a graduate student in the anthropology department.

Forty-five thousand area school children and their teachers visit the Museum and its rich international collections each year, while many thousands more are visited by Museum "mobile guides." Students from the Lea School in West Philadelphia will be special guests at the groundbreaking; immediately following the formal event, they will meet with a Museum archaeologist and try their own hands at "breaking ground" the archaeologists' way, with a trowel in an (sandbox) "excavation site."

The Museum draws upon the support and commitment of more than 300 dedicated volunteers who work in virtually every aspect of Museum research, education, programming and collections management; an all-volunteer thank you luncheon follows the groundbreaking ceremony.

Friday's ceremonial groundbreaking is the first event in a weekend-long celebration. On Saturday evening, the all-volunteer Women's Committee hosts a gala event and fundraiser, "The Eyes Have It." On Sunday, the Museum opens 44 Celebrity Eyes in a Museum Storeroom, a special exhibition that shows off the rich and diverse collections through selections by 22 international "celebrities," from cellist Yo-Yo Ma, to actor Kevin Bacon, to fashion designer Mary McFadden.

After more than 110 years of research and collections development, the Museum has reached the limit of its ability to maintain its internationally renowned collections--one million archaeological and anthropological artifacts from around the world--under present conditions in often overcrowded basement storage rooms that lack necessary climate control.

The goal of the new Mainwaring Wing, designed by the Philadelphia firm of Atkin, Olshin, Lawson-Bell and Associates Architects, is two-fold: to protect Museum objects from environmental factors by equipping the building with a state-of-the-art climate control system, and to make the objects easily accessible for study or conservation.

The Mainwaring Wing will attach to the small north facade of the 1969 wing and project out to South Street, occupying the last available site of the Museum's original, 1895 master plan developed by architect Wilson Eyre, Jr. By following existing axial relationships, matching existing eave heights, and using the same materials found in the older wing, the addition will complete the courtyard. After construction is complete, Atkin, Olshin, Lawson-Bell and Associates Architects, together with Olin Partnership Landscape Architects, will rehabilitate the lower courtyard, recreating a park-like garden space, to be named the Stoner Courtyard Garden, after donors Tom and Kitty Stoner of Maryland.

Because of the special use of the new wing, the addition will have two different facades. The storage rooms, arranged along the east side of the building, must be windowless to maintain rigorous light, temperature, and humidity controls. On this side of the building, the concrete frame structure will be clad in a limestone grid and filled in with a system of bronze panels. The facade facing the courtyard encloses the offices, seminar rooms, and circulation spaces, and will have groupings of windows in a masonry wall which will relate to the materials on the existing facade.

Trammell Crow Company will provide facilities-management services for the project. The construction manager will be Turner Construction Company.

The Museum Expansion Committee, responsible for strategic planning and fundraising, is chaired by A. Bruce Mainwaring. The committee includes: Dr. Andrea M. Baldeck, Dr. Robert H. Dyson, Cornelia Fraley, Melissa Clark Freeman, Mary Bert Gutman, Susan Helen Horsey, Josephine Hueber, Bill Klaus, Missy McQuiston, Ruth Radbill Scott, Sara Senior, Dr. David Silverman, Diana T. Vagelos, and Dr. Charles K. Williams, II.

In addition to solid financial support from more than 460 individuals, the Museum received major national and local foundation and government support for the new wing. The National Endowment for the Humanities; The Pew Charitable Trusts; the William Penn Foundation; the Hollis Family Foundation; The Kresge Foundation; The Arcadia Foundation; the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation; the TKF Foundation; and the 1984 Foundation, among others, have all contributed to the success of the new wing's campaign.


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

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