SUMR 16 Bus Trip Around Historic Philadelphia

SUMR Blog

SUMR 16 Bus Trip Around Historic Philadelphia

And an Afternoon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
image

Along with attending lectures by top academic scientists and working on real health services research projects for three months, scholars in the University of Pennsylvania's Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) program also enjoy trips to local cultural and historical sites. The outings are designed to foster collegial comaraderie and the sort of bonding that creates useful career-long relationships. The first trip of the 2016 SUMR program was a bus tour and visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (above) and included both SUMR scholars and scholars from the Wharton Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR). Greeting visitors was Robert Indiana's "Amor" sculpture. An artistic nod to the changing demographics of both the city and country, it's a Spanish-language version of the sculptor's earlier "Love" sculpture installed elsewhere in the city.

image image image
Also a lesson in Philadelphia's subway system, the outing began at a Penn campus SEPTA station (above, left). Above, right, scholars stop for a photo op in Independence National Historical Park with Independence Hall in the background. Also in the background (left - white door-and-window frames) is the memorial marking the site of the house where George Washington, his family and nine of his slaves lived during his tenure as America's first President.
image image
Mild temperatures, a gentle breeze and a cloud cover made it a perfect day for an open-top bus tour of downtown Philadelphia and its many historical sites (above, left). The tour area stretched from the Delaware River in the east to the Schulykill River in the west. Above, right, passing the house of Betsy Ross, the seamstress and upholsterer who many believe made the first U.S. stars and stripes flag for Washington's Continental Army. Looking on from the bus are (l to r) Penn SUMR scholar Nada Boualam and Wharton SPUR scholar Wendy Jiang.
image image
Also on the tour was Chinatown and its visually stunning Chinatown Friendship Gate (above, left) built in 1984 by traditional artisans from the Chinese city of Tianjin. Despite its 88 tons, the three-story-high structure was constructed with intricately interlocking parts and has no nails, screws or other modern fasteners. Above, right, the tour guide explains 187-year-old Eastern State Penitentiary. Closed as a prison in 1971, it is now a tourist attraction where visitors can roam through surreal castle-like ruins.
image image
Sitting atop center city's highest point of land, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is known for many things, including the "Rocky steps" (above, left) that were made world famous in the first of Sylvester Stallone's many "Rocky" movies. Above, right, the SUMR tour group hoofs it up the stone stairway.
image image
With its vast set of interior collections and the exterior plazas that serve as major entertainment venues throughout the year, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a major hub of Philadelphia cultural life. It's also visually spectacular inside and out and actually worth visiting for no other reason than to experience the architecture.
image image
Visiting the armor gallery (above, left), SUMR scholars stand in front of the 15th century horse armor of a German Duke made by that period's leading metal artisan. In front (l to r) are SUMR scholars Bushauna Freeman, a Lincoln University biology major; Kenya Wright, a Vanderbilt University medicine and health and society major; Kareha Agesa, a chemistry major from Denison University; and Kenhinde Oyekanmi, a Temple University public health major. Above, right, in the "200 Years of African American Art" gallery, Oyekanmi contemplates a 1991 photographic diptych by Lorna Simpson whose work is said to "reference the experience of enslaved women and their descendants who worked as servants, but who could not eat the same food or use the same dishes as the white families they served."
image image
At the top of the "Rocky" steps, the Museum's eastern plaza provides a panoramic view of the center of Philadelphia (above, left). In the foreground is Jacques Lipchitz's eight-foot-high sculpture of Prometheus, a god of Greek mythology, battling a threatening bird of prey. Above, right, at the bottom of the stairs, Penn undergrad Ajjit Narayanan, SUMR scholar Nada Boualam and SPUR scholar Elliot Oblander enjoy somewhat drippy cones of Mister Softee ice cream.
image image
The day's outing ended at Pizzeria Stella at 2nd and Lombard Streets in the "Head House Square" district of center city along the Delaware River. Stella is known for its wood-fired grill pizzas. The hungry SUMR and SPUR crew filled several tables and downed more than a dozen pies before heading back to the Penn campus during a sudden rain storm.