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Ancient Art Council

Ancient Art Department

Ancient Art Council
Legion of Honor

100 34th Avenue, Lincoln Park
San Francisco, CA 94121


A little known fact about the founding of the Legion of Honor concerns the appointment (and soon thereafter, the firing) of Arthur Upham Pope and Phyllis Ackerman as Director and Associate Director of the yet-to-be-built museum. Alma Spreckels invited the pair, recently married after an affair that cost him his professorship at the University of California, to accompany her on their first trip to Europe to acquire collections. It was not a happy excursion leading to a fortuitous parting of ways that contributed surprisingly to future passionate engagements, including Pope and Ackerman’s compiling and editing the multi-volume Survey of Persian Art in 1938.

This lecture will situate Pope’s and Ackerman’s engagement with the Legion of Honor within the lineage of the Panama Pacific International Exhibition (1915), Pope’s first visit to Persia (1925), his involvement in Philadelphia World’s Fair (1926), her interior design of the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite (opened in 1927), his design for the Penthouse of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco (1927), and publication of the Survey of Persian Art (1938–39).

About Programs at the Ancient Art Council

Programs are varied and include such activities as lectures by noted archaeologists, museum curators, and ancient art historians; exclusive tours of the Museum’s permanent collection and special exhibitions; fund-raising events; and travel programs to ancient sites and other museums. Members also receive invitations from related organizations to attend lectures ad exhibition openings. Your annual membership dues and contributions will assist in furthering the Ancient Art collection at the Fine Arts Museums.


November 16, 2019 at 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Laughable Tales and Salacious Affairs: How the Founding of the Legion of Honor Led to the Study of Persian Art

John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Theater, Legion of Honor


Presented by Carol Bier Research Scholar, Center for Islamic Studies
Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley


This lecture is free and open to the public; Suggested donation: $5

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