POW! Superhero Day at Penn Museum

WOW! Superhero Day at Penn Museum

Sunday March 22, 2009

Philadelphia, PA 2009—ZAP! ZOOM! POW! Superheroes, super villains, and their sidekicks have enjoyed an honored place in American comics and movies—as they have in cultures around the world. Watch out on Sunday, March 22, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., as superheroes, traveling through time and across continents, invade the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology on the Penn campus in an afternoon of super antics, super games—and super fun!

Members of the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC)—planning their own comic extravaganza in Philadelphia in May—join the afternoon, with superhero-style storytelling. ECBACC, now in its eighth year, promotes literacy and creativity in youth through comic book writing and drawing workshops. Education Director Akinseye Brown, a professional illustrator and author of HTD: How to Draw Afrakan Superheroes, offers two short workshops for all ages at 1:15 and 2:45 p.m. Participants learn about the important parts of a story and the use of dialogue in an interactive program that emphasizes creative thinking and self-expression.

It’s WOW! Superhero Day, free with Museum admission donation, featuring activities for all ages: heroic talks and programs, comic book drawing workshops, superhero-style storytelling, a heroic scavenger hunt and heroic gallery tours, a balloon maker, a superhero marketplace with games and comics, Superhero Twister, comic hero mask making, and opportunities to learn and play popular superhero games. All superheroes and super villains who attend in costume receive discount admission ($2 off adult; $1 off children and senior citizens)—and the chance to win super prizes throughout the afternoon!

WOW! Superhero Day at the Penn Museum is a featured event of a year-long celebration, POW: Comics, Animation, and Graphic Novels, running fall 2008 through spring 2009 at the University of Pennsylvania.

Superheroes are the focus of three short programs. Peter Struck, Associate Professor of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania, looks back in time at “Ancient Heroes and Superheroes” at 1:15 p.m. “Costumed Culture Warriors” is the title of a short program featuring movie clips by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, at 2:00 p.m. “The Physics of Superheroes, or Why Can’t We All Ignore the Laws of Nature?” an interactive program by Bill Berner, Penn Physics Demonstration Laboratory Coordinator, takes a scientific view of the possible and impossible feats performed by a range of well-known superheroes at 3:00 p.m.

With galleries of cultural material from ancient Egypt and the Mediterranean world, the Americas, Asia, and Africa, the Penn Museum is already home to a host of ancient superheroes and super villains. In the ancient Greek gallery, Hercules forever fights the Nemean lion on a 2,000-year-old painted vessel. A giant-sized stone head of Ramesses II, a pharaoh dressed like Osiris, god of the underworld, stares regally at all who visit the Egyptian gallery. In the Mesoamerican gallery, a monkey on an alabaster pot is a reminder of the tales of the ancient Maya Hero Twins. Raven, a “trickster” who frequently engages in activities that mere humans cannot, or should not, do is a major presence in Tlingit culture, and throughout the Museum’s Alaska Native Peoples exhibition. These heroic figures, and more, are the subjects of a Heroic Scavenger hunt, and can also be seen during a Heroic cross-cultural gallery tour.

Visitors interested in exploring their own human strengths and limitations—as well as considering how humans of the future may one day evolve—can tour Penn Museum’s special exhibition Surviving: The Body of Evidence, or take a super-focused tour with exhibition curator Janet Monge, exploring “Mutant Genes and Evolution,” at 2:45 p.m. Flexibility is one of the distinctly human traits noted in Surviving, and the afternoon provides an opportunity to match flexibility and endurance with others, at an ongoing game of Superhero Twister.

Inspired by the Penn Museum’s heroic collection, everyone can create their own superheroes at a craft table featuring superhero mask making, or at least learn to draw them, at two comic book drawing workshops, 2:00 and 3:30 p.m., offered by Penn Fine Arts student Siede Coleman.

Iron Man, Batman, Spider-Man, the Hulk, and even a character from the new movie, Watchmen, are created with balloons by entertainer Joshua Steinhouse in front of the Museum Shop from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

New gaming store Redcap’s Corner, in West Philadelphia, and Showcase Comics of Bryn Mawr, join in the day’s activities, with a marketplace of games and comics to browse and purchase. Redcap’s offers opportunities to learn and play three popular games based on heroes and villains—the strategy card games Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering, as well as, Heroscape, a 3-D game featuring, according to its manufacturers, “heroes and warriors from all worlds and times” gathering for “the battle of all time.”

Visitors to WOW! Superhero Day may see a few likely, and unlikely, superheroes wandering the Museum—and visitors dressed for the occasion should be on the lookout for Supermom, ready to hand out prizes for super costumes, throughout the afternoon.

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind’s collective heritage.

Penn Museum is located at 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays and holidays. Museum admission donation is $10 adults; $7 senior citizens; $6 students with ID and children 6-17; free to Museum members, children under 6, and University of Pennsylvania staff, students, and faculty with a PENNcard. For general information call (215) 898-4000, or visit the Museum’s website at museum.upenn.edu.

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