Many of those in town for the Sackler museum opening this weekend will be looking on the walls, but the real action may be on the floor--where even more names than usual will be dropped.
University students may feel less at home than Andy Warhol and Rona Barret mingling with the some 1200 invited guests at the Sanders theater dedication, including well-known artists and musicians, curators of some of the world's most famous museums, the President of China's Beijing University, and even a two-time Nobel Prize Laureate.
Invitations went out only to Harvard museum supporters, art institution types, and personal friends of the Sacklers, according to Mary Rose F. Maybank, director of the Friends of the Harvard Art Museums.
But the Sanders Theatre gala will be as open as Stone Wall Jackson's innaugural party compared to other weekend gatherings. Over the three days, Joan Kennedy, Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. '36 and other celebrities will host their own private dinners. Even the biggest names will lay out $125 per person Saturday night for a ball at the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger and Sackler museums Saturday night.
Violinist Itzhak Perlman, composer Gian-Carlo Menotti, artist Frank Stella, actress Glenn Close, and a host of others in the arts will attend the dedication, Maybank said.
Linus Pauling, winner of Nobel Prizes in both Peace and Medicine, says he doesn't know that much about the museum.
"I'm going mainly because I'm a close friend of Arthur Sackler," said Pauling.
Former Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution S. Dillon Ripley, who knows so much about the museum that he's giving the opening remarks this Friday, says he's "very impressed with. [Sackler Museum architect James] Stirling's ability to make space out of small, awkward spaces."
"There's a terrible tendency among museum builders to put things in little boxes, like honeycomb," said Ripley, who had been secretary of the Smithsonian for 20 years before becoming secretary, emeritus, last year. "Stirling's avoided that."
Ripley, who received a PhD. in Biology from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1944, said the Sackler "rounds off the circle of museums on the Harvard campus."
"I look forward to the opening very much," said Warburg Professor of Economics Emeritus John Kenneth Galbraith, who will host one of the pre-ball dinners.
"The cutting edge of civilization is not engineering, but the arts," Galbraith said. "Once things work, people want them to look nice, too," he said.
"I can't wait to see what it looks like inside," says John Jay Iselin '56, president of New York's TV Channel 13.
Iselin, who as Overseer of the University was chairman of the Harvard's Fine Arts visiting committee in the 1970's, says the museum is "a tangible tribute to Seymour Slive, Arthur Sackler, and all the supporting cast."
Iselin says Cambridge should allow the proposed bridge between the Sackler and the Fogg to be built because "it's an architectural and aesthetic plus."
"The museum world is very excited by this addition to the Fogg," said Edmund Pillsbury, director of the Kimball Museum of Art in Fort Worth, Texas.
"It's providing badly needed support for one of the best art collections in the United States, and should make the resources of the Fogg much more accessible," Pillsbury said.
Pillsbury is one of several major museum curators--including the Louvre curator Pierre Rosenberg, and the National Gallery chief curator Sydney Freedberg--who will be on hand for the Sackler dedication.
"It's a great day for Harvard," said James Lally, president of the New York-based Sotheby's auction house.
"It's unfortunate that the bridge has not been given permission, but once that's done it should be a tremendous facility," he said.