curioCITY: Mainstream Mummies- where mummies meet advertising, and are shared with teens!

group photo

The Field Museum’s Youth Council has done it again. On June 16th, 2018, in the Grainger Digital Media Studio, wisdom was shared, minds were blown, and many were left inspired. For starters, why in the world would we choose to bring together someone who works to restore ancient artifacts and someone who uses images and words to get people to buy a product? Curious? Keep on reading to find out, and buckle up as you prepare to be amazed by the magnificence that was Mainstream Mummies!

Field Museum speaker, JP Brown, a Regenstein Conservator for Pacific Anthropology and Pete Lefebvre, a Creative Director at Leo Burnett Group, one of the leading advertising companies in the US, sat down with Youth Council MC’s Andrei and Carina to share their experiences, answer questions from teens, and spread knowledge of their respective fields.

JP’s work focuses on the conservation and restoration of artifact collections. His latest work with CT scanning of mummies from the Americas and Ancient Egypt paved the way for the Mummies Exhibit at the Field (which, if I may say, is fascinating, and a personal favorite!). Pete is the mind behind the creative commercials you might see on TV for companies such as Country Time Lemonade and Pop Tarts. Most recently, he led the campaign for the Art Institute of Chicago’s Airbnb listing of the Vincent Van Gogh’s Bedroom painting. Certainly, curioCITY was filled with excellent speakers who were eager to share their career experiences with teens from across the city!

curioCITY was much more than an event where speakers simply spoke to teens. Teens were engaging in hands-on experiences, which were based on the professions of JP and Pete. Teens had their heads 3D scanned, toured ancient sites using VR technology, paged through a real commercial script, and designed their own personalized hieroglyphic bookmark made out of real Egyptian papyrus! One teen described the experience as “insightful”, because she had never attended such an event.


Throughout the interview, teens had the opportunity to learn from the speakers and ask their own questions. JP shared his experiences in traveling to places like Peru to excavate mummies, then returning to the Field and using medical equipment like CT scanning to gain a deeper analysis of these individuals from ancient societies. Pete spoke of his latest work with Country Time Lemonade, in which a legal aide was created for kids’ lemonade stands being busted for not having a permit. How cool! Both JP and Pete agreed upon the constant changes their fields have with respect to advances in technology, sharing the importance of adapting their tasks and approaches to their work in order to accomplish their goals.

Interestingly, an analogy made by Pete, left both JP and the audience captured. Staging that “a project is like a baby bird. You take the risk of it either flying or falling and splattering.” JP said that besides his love for anthropology and conservation, he holds another passion: comedy. During his free time, he does stand-up comedy shows. JP gave advice to the audience of trying something new, which may become a passion or lead them to one. Surely, the audience was appreciative of the given advice.

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As Mainstream Mummies began to wind down, a few lucky attendees left with Field Museum shirts and passes for the Mummies exhibit, while everyone left with a 3D printed bracelet, courtesy of JP’s 3D printer!  From the beginning, it has been the goal of the Youth Council to get teens closer to science through their interactions with scientists during curioCITY. To see teens from all across the city excited, interested, and asking questions of our speakers is assurance that we are doing a good job, and that a place like the Field is where unstoppable learning can take place. This was shown through the commonalities found between our speakers, both from what may seem very different fields. JP and Pete share the trait in their careers of wanting to solve an issue. In Pete’s work, he uses his creativity to solve any problem a company may face. With JP, he works to restore an artifact to study its depths. While this may not be obvious upon hearing of both careers, curioCITY was able to unwind this and share it with teens. This is what curioCITY is all about.  

We truly thank our speakers for making curioCITY possible, and everyone who came to our events throughout the year! While its a wrap for the 2017-2018 Youth Council, we will run more curioCITY’s in the 2018-2019 season. Stay curious!

– Casandra, Youth Council Member


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