How would you like to have a cast made of your face? A face cast is a mold that can then be used to make lifelike busts or heads. Artist Kate Clark is working on a new exhibit for the Museum which will respond to face casts used to make busts for the race exhibit that was part of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. “Facing Artifacts: Casting And Collecting Profiles of San Diegans” is part of her “Parkeology” project.
Parkeology invites the public to donate their faces to the anthropological collections of the Museum of Man. For one day, a life casting station will be headquartered in the museum rotunda. Visitors will have the opportunity to sit for 30 minutes with a lead Parkeologist and have the unique features of their face cast in plaster. These new artifacts will be documented and exhibited in the Museum of Man as a temporary loan.
That will connect participants across more than 100 years of museum history. In his book Balboa Park History, Richard Amero describes the 1915 exhibit that Kate’s work will be responding to.
Ten painted plaster bust models of precursors of present-day man by Belgian sculptor Louis Mascré, in the Science and Education Building, illustrated “The Evolution of Man.” These imaginative busts were replicas of colored originals, created between 1909 and 1914, under the direction of curator Aime Rutot, for the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences of Belgium in Brussels. The Museum of Aquitaine, in Bordeaux, France displays a third group. Frank Mischa and Joseph Andrews made plaster sets of 45 male and 45 females busts, cast from living subjects, that portrayed man’s development from birth to senescence in white, Indian and black races. Mischa also made plaster busts of 75 native Americans from facial casts. These included Blackfoot, Sioux, Omaha, Apache and Osage. Some of the busts have been retained by the San Diego Museum of Man; others are kept in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, where descendants of the original subjects can see them and ask for copies.