The story behind the Addams Family silhouette

Dear Benny:
Walking past Addams Hall the other day, I noticed a sculpture I had not noticed before. It is a set of silhouettes of the fictional Addams Family. Has it always been located at the corner of 36th and Walnut and I just didn’t notice? Also, could you tell me the names of the characters depicted in the piece?
–Family Friendly

Dear F.F.,
As you know, famed cartoonist Charles Addams was an architecture student at Penn in the 1930s, and in 2001 the building at 200 S. 36th Street was dedicated in his honor as the permanent home for the University’s Fine Arts Department.

The silhouettes you noticed were originally located in the Addams courtyard. They were removed during construction of the new Annenberg Public Policy Center and relocated to the high-traffic corner of 36th and Walnut, where they will stay, serving as a whimsical way to identify the building as the Charles Addams Fine Arts Hall.

Julie Saecker Schneider, director of the undergraduate Fine Arts Department, adds that the piece was designed by Lindsay Falck, a faculty member in landscape architecture in the School of Design. The silhouettes were created for the dedication of the building.

 Incidentally, the Kelly Family Gates—the famous hand gates—were the product of a sculpture competition held at the same time. The winning entry was designed by faculty member Mark Lueders, MFA’93, a PennDesign alumnus and sculptor. The gates feature hands from 46 Penn administrators, faculty and staff, and make an obvious reference to the one missing Addams Family member in the silhouettes, the hand known as Thing.

Next time you walk by the sculpture you can impress your friends by identifying all eight of the Addams Family members silhouetted. They are—from left to right—Uncle Fester, Pugsley, Lurch, Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday, Grandmama and Cousin Itt.

Got a question for Benny? Send it via e-mail to current@pobox.upenn.edu or via regular mail to the Current, 200 Sansom Place East, 3600 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6106.

Originally published on December 3, 2009