February 19, 2004

Fake Societies and Real Rembrandts

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I was recently presented with the question: who actually goes to the Johnson Museum? Is it Cornell students? Professors maybe? Or local school kids on a field trip? According to the Johnson’s Publications and Publicity Coordinator, Andrea Potochniak, the answer is actually none of the above. Wealthy, middle aged parents with kids are the most frequent patrons, she says. Why? This is one of those mysteries that drives at a deeper question people in Public Relations, Marketing, or any Social Science field try to determine all the time: what makes certain types of people act the way they do, and how can we change that behavior?

In light of my first question — who actually goes to the Johnson Museum — I propose that the answer should simply be: you do. In part two of this museum series, we’ll check out artifacts from a long-lost civilization you’ve likely never heard of, and an amazing collection of prints and etchings by the world-renowned European artist Rembrandt himself.

Norman Daly: The Civilization of Llhuros is so extensive and detailed it deserves at least more than one visit. Norman Daly is a 93-year-old Cornell Professor Emeritus who has been teaching in the Department of Art for over 50 years. His civilization has been in process for almost 40 years, yet not once has he been on an archeological dig uprooting the remains of this civilization long extinct from Earth. Instead, he has been creating it.

The Civilization of Llhuros is a collection of paintings, mosaics, frescos, jewelry, architectural ruins, pottery, and other artifacts that are displayed along with detailed descriptions as to what their “discoverers” believed the people of Llhuros used these objects for. As if walking through the corridors of a natural history museum, you might pass artifacts labeled “votive of stilt walkers,” “water clock