Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This belongs in a museum!

Friends (at least those of you who have me on your RSS feed and so will actually see this).

I have chosen to break radio silence to bring you tidings of great joy. Click here. Go. Don't worry. I'll wait.

...... did you click? Really? Are you sure? Last chance. OK.


Right???? I'm practically at a loss for words and am totally squealing with glee. It's everything I adore, everything that I'm passionate about, every reason I started this blog, all rolled into one pile of AWESOME. I don't even care that it will probably not be very good and disappointing on all levels. It EXISTS!

In all (exuberant) seriousness, the exhibit does raise some really interesting issues concerning the confluence of pop culture and academic science. I'm really interested to see how the curators juxtapose "real" objects with movie props. From the photo slide show, it looks like they picked archaeological objects that are rather similar to some key props from the movies. Will that have the effect of undermining the authenticity of the "real" objects, or make it more powerful? How will they tell the story of scientific archaeology through a leitmotif that bears no resemblance to it in any substantive way? (Except perhaps the common headgear, which is a beautiful example of life coming to imitate the art.)

Also of interest here are the primary partners and sponsors: National Geographic Society, Lucasfilms, and the Penn Museum (a highly credible institution). I brought this very topic up in my Museum Studies seminar this week, and someone wondered who initiated this exhibition concept and why. I immediately, knee-jerk reacted that it must be Lucasfilms (which has also done Star Wars exhibits) and they must be expecting a fair amount of revenue to be generated. But, upon further contemplation I think it's more than that. Indiana Jones has been a gateway for many people to understand what archaeology is and what it does (well...sort of). A museum show is conceivably the perfect forum for Indy and science to be put side by side, so that one may inform the other. The trick, however, will be doing it well. And doing it well will be ever so much more difficult than doing it poorly. But the criteria for success of this exhibit should be to clarify the

Press release-type information is here, as well as a promotional video, for those so inclined. It's pretty interesting stuff. (A nice touch is the "This belongs in a museum!!!" "So do you!" exchange from Last Crusade.)

So, Montreal? Next summer? Anyone? (I will note that Ann Arbor to Montreal is an 11 hour drive, which is only an hour and a half more than some people I know have been willing to drive in order to go to a museum for the weekend.)

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