“The Oriental Institute’s 100th Anniversary Celebrations” by S.M. O’Connor

The Oriental Institute (O.I.) will celebrate its Centennial Year (100th anniversary of the foundation of its foundation) with a number of special events in addition to the “Mummies Night: 100 Years of Mummies!” on Saturday, October 26, 2019, which I wrote about last week. Founded in 1919 by James Henry Breasted (1865-1935) with the financial support of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960), whose father provided the bulk of the financial support for the foundation of The University of Chicago, The Oriental Institute is one of the world’s leading archaeology museums and research centers devoted to the study of the history and art of ancient Near East and Middle East civilizations of Egypt, Nubia, Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and Persia.  William Rainey Harper (1856-1906), the founding President of the (Second) University of Chicago, had appointed Breasted to the faculty in 1894.  It was Breasted who coined the phrase “The Fertile Crescent” to describe the civilizations or the Near East and Middle East, which he believed was the cradle of civilization.  The Oriental Institute, which sent out field expeditions in the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, opened in 1931.  In the 1990s and early 2000s, The Oriental Institute Museum underwent major renovations and a new wing was built with climate-controlled storage for artifacts and the archives.

The Centennial Gala

The Centennial Gala will be on September 14, 2019 from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.  This is an opportunity for rich and upper-middle-class people to hobnob with other rich and upper-middle-class people who share a love of history and some of the scholars who do the work of preserving or recovering knowledge of ancient civilizations of the Near East and Middle East and the administrators who make that work possible.  Donors, senior executives and trustees of The University of Chicago, archaeologists and researchers, and politicians, will be present.

The event will starts with a cocktail and hors d’oeuvre reception inside The Oriental Institute.  A gourmet dinner with full beverage service will follow inside a luxurious tent on the main campus quadrangle.  The event will conclude with dessert and cocktail reception and dancing under the stars.

A ticket is $500, of which $325 is tax-deductible as a charitable donation.  Click here to purchase a ticket, sponsor a table, or make a donation.  They are looking for sponsors at four different levels.  Sponsors at all four levels will receive named recognition in the event program and a table for ten.  Each table guest receives a complimentary annual Oriental Institute membership.  With this membership, one will receive complimentary admission to The Oriental Institute Museum and access to O.I. Centennial special events.  At the Supporter Level ($5,000), one gains a tour of The Oriental Institute Museum led by a docent or staff member on the night of the gala, and participation in dinner and post-dinner activities.  At the Patron Level ($10,000), one gains a private tour of The Oriental Institute Museum led by a staff member and a faculty member or senior researcher will sit at one’s table.  At the Director Level ($25,000), one gains a private tour of The Oriental Institute Museum led by a faculty member or senior researcher, an O.I. faculty member or senior researcher will sit at one’s table, and one will receive a certificate for a one-hour-long, behind-the-scenes tour for ten at a later date.  At the Founder Level ($50,000), one will gain a private, V.I.P., behind-the-scenes tour of The Oriental Institute led by the Director and the Chief Curator of The Oriental Institute Museum on the evening of the gala, and a faculty member or senior researcher will sit at one’s table.  In addition, sponsors at all four levels will be recognized by name in (1) the annual honor roll of donors in both digital and print formats; (2) press materials and promotional materials for the centennial Gala (if The Oriental Institute gets the money before producing such materials); (3) the special Centennial issue of The O.I.’s quarterly magazine News & Notes; and (4) “any donor recognition instruments” at the end of The O.I.’s Centennial Campaign, which will take place over the course of the 2019-2010 schoolyear.  The person or persons principally responsible for the Centennial Gala sponsorship funding will be enrolled in an annual membership in the James Henry Breasted Society.

The Oriental Institute Public Celebration

The Oriental Institute Public Celebration will take place in The Oriental Institute Museum on the afternoon of Saturday, September 28, 2019 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  This is a free event.  Faculty members, curators, and other specialists will be in the galleries to speak to visitors about the origins of writing and the writing systems of Mesopotamia and Anatolia, Assyrian and Persian monumental architecture, magic in ancient Egypt, The O.I.’s century of excavations, and research projects intended to understand ancient civilizations and protect the remnants of them.  There will be family activities, an unveiling of gallery-ide renovations, and the display of a centennial exhibit.

Lecture: The Rise of Ancient Israel and Other Problematic Entities

Ayelet Gilboa of the University of Haifa, Director of the Zinmnan Institute of Archaeology, will deliver the lecture “The Rise of Ancient Israel and Other Problematic Entities: An Archaeological Perspective” on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 in The Oriental Institute’s Breasted Hall from 7:00 p.m. to 9::00 p.m.  Click here to register for free via Eventbrite.

Mummies and Martinis

The Young Professionals will host their first Halloween party, Mummies and Martinis, on Thursday, October 24, 2019 from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.  It is open to patrons twenty-one to forty-five years old.  A pre-registration donation of $15 covers two drink tickets.  There will be Halloween-themed beverages, a D.J., and small group tours of the galleries.  The Registration Webpage for this event does not seem to be up and running yet, but one can call the Membership Office at (773) 834-9777.

Indiana Jones Film Festival and The Mummy (1959)

The Randi Rubovits-Seitz Foundation is sponsoring the Indian Jones Film Festival.[1]  The fictional archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is supposed to be a graduate of The University of Chicago.  Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) will be screened by Doc Films (Documentary Films Group, the student-run film society) in Ida Noyes Hall on Friday, October 11, 2019 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. This will be a 35mm print.  The address is 1212 East 59th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637.  Both Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) will be screened in Breasted Hall on Saturday, October 12, 2019. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom will be screened from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., there will be a panel discussion between the two film screenings, and then Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade will be screened from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  This will be a thirtieth anniversary screening of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  The winner of the Indiana Jones costume contest will be announced on Saturday before the screening of Last Crusade.

Attending the screening of any or all of the three films is free for University of Chicago students and Oriental Institute members.  For everyone else, admittance will require a ticket that costs $7 per film or $10 for the double feature in Breasted Hall on Saturday or $15 for a two-day pass to see all three films.  Click here to register via Eventbrite.

The Hammer horror film The Mummy (1959),[2] which stars English actor Peter Cushing, O.B.E. (1913-1994) as John Banning; Anglo-Italian actor Sir Christopher Lee (1922-2015) as Kharis, and gorgeous French actress Yvonne Furneaux as Isobel Banning, will be screened in Breasted Hall on Saturday, October 26, 2019 from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.  Mummy animated short films will also be screened.

This screening is also free for University of Chicago students and Oriental Institute members or $7 for everyone else.  Click here to register via Eventbrite.

Lecture: Return to Iraq

McGuire Gibson will deliver the lecture “Return to Iraq” on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 in Breasted Hall from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  Click here to register via Eventbrite.

Lecture: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Vision for Greater Baghdad

Tasha Vorderstrasse, University and Continuing Education Coordinator at The oriental Institute, will deliver the lecture: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Vision for Greater Baghdad in Breasted Hall on Saturday, November 16, 2019 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.  In 1957, toward the end of his long life, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) developed unrealized plans for Baghdad.[3]  It included a civic opera house, shops, a university, a museum, and a monument dedicated to the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid (who ruled from 786 to 809 A.D.).  Ms. Vorderstrasse will place Wright’s ambition within the context of the influence of Middle Eastern architecture on Western architecture, The Oriental Institute being an example.[4]

The Oriental Institute Museum and Suq Gift Shop

The Museum and Suq Gift Shop is closed on Mondays, New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. It has short hours the day before Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.  Generally, it is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays through Saturdays and from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.  The suggested donation to gain admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children under twelve.  Groups of ten or more people should register in advance.  Food, drinks, backpacks, umbrellas, parcels and bags larger than 11” by 13”, e-cigarettes, and vaporizers are prohibited.  While inside the galleries, do not speak on a cell phone.

The Oriental Institute is located on The University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park on the South Side of Chicago. It is north of the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on a block bounded by 58th Street to the north, Woodlawn Avenue to the east, 59th Street to the south, and University Avenue to the west.  The address is 1155 East 58th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637.  Click here for driving and parking directions.

ENDNOTES

[1] Thank God that the terrible fourth film in the series, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) will not be screened.

[2] This was not exactly a remake of the Universal horror film The Mummy (1932), which starred Boris Karloff (1887-1967) as Imhotep, because it also borrowed elements from three sequels to that film: The Mummy’s Hand (1940), The Mummy’s Tomb (1942), and The Mummy’s Ghost (1944).

[3] To put this in context, two of his former associates, the husband-and-wife team of Walter Burley Griffin (1876-1937) and Marion Mahoney Griffin (1871-1961) designed the Australian federal capital city-state of Canberra.

[4] Another example would be the Hall of Transportation for Chicago’s first World’s Fair, the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893) designed in the Arabesque style of architecture by Wright’s mentor, Louis Sullivan (1856-1924).  It should be noted, however, that it was Japanese architecture, as exemplified by the Ho-O-Den at the World’s Columbian Exposition, which inspired Wright and other Chicago architects to develop the Prairie School style of architecture.

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